Thursday, January 15, 2009

Earth to Elton

Don't look now, but your Philadelphia 76ers are starting to make some noise in the NBA. Last night, I was in attendance for the Sixers' 100-79 romp over the Portland Trailblazers, who just so happened to be 9 games over .500 before tipoff.

With the exception of a big run by the Blazers in the 3rd quarter that cut a 22-point halftime lead to single digits, the game was never close. The Sixers were out and running early, forcing turnovers and filling it up from the floor. They routed an upstart Portland team for their fifth straight win, taking over the 8th spot in the East.

Andre Iguodala continued his renaissance. Last night, he was the best player on the court. Better than any of his teammates. Better than any Blazer. Yes, even Brandon Roy, who had a pretty damn good game in his own right (27-5-6). But it was Iguodala's 29 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists that catapulted Philadelphia to the victory.

The Sixers simply continued to do what they've done since Elton Brand went down. They played tough defense, forced a lot of turnovers and got up and down the floor with ease. Mareese Speights continued to impress, and his hard putback dunks have been igniting the Sixers on a nightly basis. Thaddeus Young seems to have regained his stroke, Lou Will is doing his thing and Reggie Evans is banging bodies. Hell, even Samuel Dalembert seems rejuvenated, crashing the boards with abandon and blocking shots.

I hope Elton is watching because seeing his teammates excel without him in ways they weren't with him has to be pretty motivating. Hopefully it will push him to come back as a different player than the one who was vastly underachieving with a team that was struggling to adjust to him.

As far as Portland goes, that team confused me quite a bit. There aren't many teams in the NBA with as much depth as the Blazers, even without the services of Rudy Fernandez last night. But they looked extremely disinterested in playing, with the exception of Roy.

Greg Oden surely has a long way to go, but it really didn't look like the Blazers were all that interested in getting him involved offensively last night. Maybe he's not ready yet. All I know is, he didn't do a damn thing. Also, I can't figure out how Steve Blake starts on this team.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Blake when he was at Maryland, and the guy is having a very good year in Portland. But really, he isn't a starting NBA point guard. Last night, he proved that. He looked overmatched by an athletic Sixers team and turned the ball over twice very early in the game. He wasn't awful, but he wasn't very effective either.

I would have thought maybe Jerryd Bayless would be an option, but he can't shoot worth a lick. He was terrible last night, yet with Blake struggling and Bayless playing awful, Nate McMillan never really gave Sergio Rodriguez any run. In my opinion, he's better than both Bayless and Blake, but that's just me.

Anyway, it was a nice win by the Sixers and I followed it by watching the end of the Lakers-Spurs game when I got home.

It was a wild finish. San Antonio was up late, but then Kobe took over, even breaking out the Sam Cassell "Big Balls" dance.

Then this happened:

That was a ridiculous shot by Roger Mason. And maybe that was a bad call on Trevor Ariza, but dude, when Kobe passes you the ball and the last shot is waiting, get it right back to him. I'm pretty sure Lakers fans want Kobe taking that shot 1,000 times out of 1,000. Not Trevor Ariza. Sweet game though.


BallHype: hype it up!

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