On a night when their best defensive player returned, the Sixers turned in one of their worst defensive performances of the season in a 111-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers last night at the Wells Fargo Center.
More concerning than their lack of defense was the lack of intensity the team had in losing for just the third time in their last 12 games at home. They were listless from the beginning and fell behind by as much 16 points in the third quarter. A 38-17 scoring burst gave them a five point lead midway through the fourth, but Indiana came back and scored 12 of the game's final 14 points to win for the first time on the road in 10 tries.
Was the listlesss performance on the night Igudala returned after missing seven games with Achilles tenonitis just a coincidence? Coach Doug Collins inserted Iguodala into the starting lineup because he wanted him on the court after warming up pregame. He also said that being the team's best player, why wouldn't he be in the starting lineup?
Iguodala had talked before coming back that he didn't want to interupt the offensive flow that the team had established during his absence, didn't "want to step on anyone's toes." He certainly didn't do much at the offensive end, scoring one point and missing all seven of his shots in more than 33 minutes, though he did deal seven assists.
Now, with another pi ece to work with, Collins will have to figure out a way to work his rotation around Iguodala, who gobbles up minutes the way Roy Halladay does innings. Andres Nocioni was removed from the starting lineup in place of Iguodala, and is hurting with a fractured middle finger. Collins still has to find minutes at the forward spot for Nocioni (when healthy), Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, who seems most comfortable at the small forward spot for now.
When healthy, Iguodala is the team's best one-on-one defender, and that is something the team sorely needs. But they also need the same inspired play they had when he was sidelined. That certainly wasn't the case on Tuesday. Whether it was a coincidence or not remains to be seen.
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