If you're reading this in the early hours of Wednesday morning, then you're like Andre Iguodala himself -- running on adrenaline. Since this game ended at 1 a.m., only a buzzer-beating edition made the papers. Here's the final edition, for those of you interested.
This is -- absolutely -- the best win of the season. After the game, Tony DiLeo said he felt like the team was starting to come together like they did before the all-star break. This was a gutty win, especially being down 14 in the fourth and watching, with 6.6 seconds remaining, Kobe Bryant do what Kobe Bryant does. Although (sweet) Lou did not make the final edition, his first-half play, and 14 first-half points, were essential in the Sixers bouncing back from what was a slow start.
Oh, and that's Jack Nicholson in the photo. 127: You asked for the Blackberry photos. There they are, in all their glory.
By Kate Fagan
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
LOS ANGELES – If silence makes sound, you heard it last night in the Staples Center.
It was inside this arena that 18,997 Los Angeles Lakers fans stood cheering – euphoric because their hero had just been heroic – and watched Andre Iguodala release his ceiling-scraping jumper.
They watched as the ball arched through the air, spun downwards, then swirled through the rim.
As it did, it felt as if a gust of wind swept through the arena, replacing the expected – Kobe Bryant hits game-winning jumper – with the never-before – Iguodala trumps Bryant.
Last night in downtown Los Angeles, the Sixers stunned the Lakers 94-93.
The Sixers had trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter. They looked buried beneath the gold-and-purple before veteran Donyell Marshall popped from the bench – for the second straight game – and delivered three three-pointers, helping stitch together an improbable rally.
At the end of that rally, Iguodala promised he would win the game.
And he did.
But before he could, the drama began, per usual, with Bryant. Struggling through an 0 for 5 fourth quarter, Bryant had the ball, guarded by Iguodala, game tied.
No matter the shooting woes: Bryant hesitated, rocked Iguodala off balance, and rose for the jumper.
“He’s made so many of those shots … so many,” said Sixers coach Tony DiLeo. “It doesn’t matter what he’s done before that.”
Bryant’s jumper with 6.6 seconds remaining gave the Lakers a 93-91 lead and sent the party-prone Staples crowd dancing in the aisles.
The Sixers called a timeout.
DiLeo began diagramming a play.
“We gave Andre the option, we cleared it out for him … but he said coming out, ‘I’m going to win the game,’ so he knew what he was going to do and he did it,” DiLeo explained.
“I said ‘I’m shooting a three’ and [DiLeo] looked at me like ‘What do you mean?’” said Iguodala. “I said, ‘I’m shooting the three and I’m going to win the game for us.’”
“He told us he was going to make the shot,” said point guard Andre Miller. “So it was premeditated.”
Iguodala, guarded by Los Angeles forward Trevor Ariza, caught the sideline inbounds pass with :6.6 left. Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson had told his team they had a foul to give.
“I don’t know if Trevor fully understood when I said we had a foul to use because he did not use it,” Jackson said.
Instead, Iguodala juked Aziza with the same move Bryant had put, not a minute before, on him: a hesitation dribble.
“Yeah, it was the same move,” Iguodala confirmed. “It hasn’t been working for me this year, but about four games ago it started clicking a little bit. I use it once a game. I used it in the Toronto game a few times. I knew it would be there. It throws the defender off rhythm a little bit … it worked on me, when I was guarding Kobe, and it worked on Trevor.”
Iguodala finished with 25 points. He also chased Bryant through pick-and-rolls and around double screens, limiting the all-world shooting guard to 11 points.
“We wanted to flood the area so Kobe would see a lot of shirts around Andre,” DiLeo said.
Although Bryant’s usually precise jumper was amiss last night – he finished 4 for 12 from the field – he also sat with foul trouble in the second and third quarters.
Last night’s big-time win jump starts this five-game, seven-day Western trip for the Sixers, who play tonight at the Phoenix Suns.
The Sixers improve to 34-31 and have won four straight. The Lakers drop to 52-14.
Last night’s win might have been the most unlikely of this road trip; perhaps the most unlikely of the season.
But is it the best?
“Probably the best I would think,” DiLeo said. “I can’t think of a better one … I think we’re coming back together like we did before the all-star break.”
“This is a big turn for us,” Miller said.
Because Iguodala’s long three-pointer coincided with the buzzer, the referees were forced to view the replay.
But even as they did, delaying the outcome of the game, a number of Lakers fans began packing their stuff, heading for the exits.
As they left the Staples Center they said to those still waiting:
"Come on, it’s over, we know that shot was good.”