Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jrue, Lou, Thad and Brand

To prove just how big of a problem we have in my house with watching sports, last night my roommate and I simultaneously watched Penn State get handled easily by Purdue and the Sixers keep the Wizards winless on the road. My roommate said we may have been the only people in the world with both games on, and if we weren't, we were certainly the only ones that followed it up by watching Dayton-St. Louis.

The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Nothing noteworthy happened in those two college games, but the Sixers game was a different story. The Wizards are absolutely horrendous, sitting at 8-25 and 14th in the East. They are winless on the road. And they just overhauled part of their team. They also beat the Sixers twice in November, winning both contests the teams played in D.C.

When the Wizards took a 52-50 lead into halftime, it looked as though they might beat the Sixers again. John Wall, while a little erratic from the field, was outstanding getting to the rim and setting up teammates. He finished with 18 points and 14 assists. Nick Young was bombing away to the tune of 21 points. And Kirk Hinrich steadied the Wizards at times in the second half, going on a couple stretches of carrying the offense on his back.

But in the end, Washington was not able to get its first road victory because two starters and two bench players simply took over for the Sixers.

The player of the game was without question Jrue Holiday. The second-year man outdid the 2010 No. 1 overall pick, scoring 26 points on 10-14 from the floor to go along with 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. It was Jrue's fourth 20-point game in the last six contests, and in that span he's averaging 21 points a game. His development continues to progress, and it's now doing so at a rapid pace.

Last night, Jrue did it in a multitude of ways. He aggressive attacked the basket, evident by his 9 free throw attempts, and finished at the rim with ruthless efficiency. He hit some midrange jumpers, and most important of all, he only jacked up one ill-advised shot the entire night, spending the night taking what the defense gave him and setting up his teammates when nothing was there. It was an outstanding performance by Jrue, and he's quickly becoming this team's best player.

While Jrue is turning into the best player, and Andre Iguodala when healthy has been the team's best player for years, Elton Brand has quietly been having a better season than both of them. After two disappointing, injury-plagued seasons, Brand is healthy, fit and leading the way for a Sixers team that's trying to find itself. He leads the team in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. His 50.5 percent field goal percentage is second only to Thaddeus Young's, and his 81.3 percent from the line is third behind Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams. As hard as it is to admit being an anti-Elton guy, he really is having a damn good year.

Last night was more of the same. Brand scored 17 points on 6-9 from the field and probably should have gotten the ball a bit more. He added six boards and 3 assists, and went 5-6 from the line. And the Sixers were a +16 with him on the floor.

The only player to match that was Louis Williams, who easily had his best game of the year. In a season where Williams has seen his shooting percentage plummet, he was back to his old self, his 2009-10 self, last night. Williams tied Holiday with a game-high 26 points last night, giving the Sixers a huge spark off the bench. The most encouraging part was he did it incredibly efficiently, going 7-10 from the field, 2-2 from three and getting to the line a game-high 11 times, nailing 10 of them. It was Lou at his best, and he wasn't alone in the strong bench play.

Combining with Lou off the bench, Thaddeus Young had another quietly efficient night. He scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting, nabbed 4 boards and finished off a nice dunk on a great pass by Marreese Speights.

Speights provided some nice contributions himself with 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 16 minutes, and Andres Nocioni had a really nice all-around game, scoring 10 points and grabbing a a game-high 10 rebounds.

However, it wasn't all good news in the 109-97 win. For one thing, the Sixers got absolutely nothing out of starters Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes. Hawes I'll give the benefit of the doubt to because he was coming back from a tweaked back and has had some really nice games this year. Still, he hasn't consistently been good. He was showing signs of turning into a player, but hasn't done much in recent weeks. Meeks, meanwhile, sucks. He had that one good game, but there's a reason he got practically no time before becoming a 76er. He's no good.

Not as bad as Jason Kapono, mind you, who can't even do the one thing he is the NBA to do anymore, which is shoot. Kapono only played 6 minutes last night and only took two shots, but he missed both badly. One was inside the arc and a shot he should never take. The other was a wide-open three. If he can't hit that shot, and he can't anymore for some reason, he shouldn't be in the league. And the proof is in the pudding that his time in the NBA should absolutely be over. Kapono is shooting 27 freakin percent form the field, 25 percent from three and 50 percent from the line. This from a guy who is a career 44 percent shooter from three and 83 percent shooter from the line. I don't care how little time he's getting, those numbers are atrocious and he should be killed. Or at least cut. He's terrible.

And Evan Turner, hoo boy. Yesterday I said 34 games are not enough to really make a definitive judgment on the guy, and neither is 35 games. But man, he completely and utterly sucks so far. Last night he scored just 2 points on 1-5 from the floor and turned the ball over 3 times. He's awful. I hope he turns it around, but at this point I really wish the Sixers hadn't gotten the second pick. As Bob Barker once said, "This guy sucks!"

1 comment:

  1. I agree Evan Turner is TERRIBLE. He could probably be one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. Actually to be fair, Evan does have company. Save for Wall, this year's draft class has not really been worth mentioning, has it?