It wasn’t pretty, and much of the time during the 76ers home-opener last night, the play wasn’t good. But after six games that has produced four wins, Sixers coach Doug Collins no doubt feels pretty good to be where his team is right now.
On a night when the much anticipated side show was, well, pretty good, and alums Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andre Toney and Bobby Jones were in the house, the basketball was far less than spectacular. That could be more of a norm than liked by fans during this condensed season, but a win is a win and the Sixers were able to play a little less ugly than the Detroit Pistons in posting a 96-73 win.
Once again, in what is becoming an alarming trend, the Sixers started slowly. But as was uttered by many at the Wells Fargo Center – “It’s a good thing they’re playing the Pistons.” Detroit, now 2-5, was without starters Rodney Stuckey (groin) and Ben Gordon (personal reasons), and the Sixers had just too many reliable weapons.
*Spencer Hawes, now a crowd favorite after multiple chants of his name by the near-sellout crowd, again posted a double-double, his fourth of the season, with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
*Jrue Holiday, though he struggled through a 2-for-9 shooting night, dealt nine assists. In his last two games, he’s accumulated 17 assists and just two turnovers.
*The three players used mainly off the bench in the game, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, combined for 39 points and 13 rebounds.
*And the defense limited the Pistons to just 36 percent shooting (31-for-86), including none of the 10 three-pointers attempted.
But the big story of the night was the emergence of slumping shooting guard Jodie Meeks. After a 1-for-6 start, including 0-for-3 from three-point range, Meeks made his next six shots, including four treys, and finished with a team-high 21 points. He scored 17 of them in the fourth quarter, at one point going for nine in under a minute.
“I told people that Jodie just needed a good game. Just like when you’re hungry, all you need is a good meal,” said coach Doug Collins.
Before his fourth quarter surge, Meeks was 3-for-17 on the season from beyond the arc, which is really the only thing offensively this team is looking for him to do. If there was frustration building, he kept it hidden. But when the shots started to fall, Meeks’ reaction showed relief.
“I’m always going to play with confidence. For me it’s just a rhythm thing,” said Meeks. “If I’m open I’m going to shoot it. I hear Reggie Miller say that shooters shoot and they don’t think. Most important thing is that we got the way. First home game and we had a really nice crowd out there.
“I wasn’t really frustrated, I just kind of wanted to get into a rhythm. Everybody goes through those tough times, but I’m a player with a lot of confidence. I’m a team-first guy.”
Most on the team are. It’s what is making them a very dangerous opponent.
“We are a team in every sense of the word,” said Collins.
On a night when Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand combined for just three field goals in 13 attempts, they needed to be.
More to come.