Thursday, November 10, 2005
76ers are for real
To all the haters that were calling me to make fun of our 0 and 3 start..take a look we just beat two of the top five teams in the league....Pa que masquen!!!
THE 24-SECOND shot clocks above both backboards in the Wachovia Center didn't work all night. The 76ers' defense, on the other hand, worked as efficiently as it has this season. You could argue that the Sixers' bench worked even better than that.
When the Sixers, you should pardon the expression, clocked out, it was with an impressive 112-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Most impressively, the Sixers won at home for the first time with a frenetic 10-0 finish to the third quarter and a 19-5 start in the fourth.
Don't look now, but they recorded the decision with Allen Iverson shooting a struggling 8-for-21 in a little more than 38 minutes. He seemed to favor his right side in the late stages and visited with the team's medical staff afterward; he did not address reporters.
The backups, though, more than addressed the job at hand. John Salmons and Kevin Ollie were effective in up-the-court pressure, James Thomas had seven rebounds and five points, and Lee Nailon contributed eight points, including a layup on a clutch steal.
Not that the starters were exactly AWOL. Iverson finished with 25 points, Andre Iguodala matched his career high of 22, Kyle Korver dropped in nine of 11 shots for 20 points, and Chris Webber fought off a 3-for-12 first half to manage 19 points and 11 rebounds.
After neither team led by more than eight through three quarters, the Sixers bolted a 19-point advantage at 95-76 with 6:22 remaining. The Mavs, who lost star forward Dirk Nowitzki toward the end of the first half with a strained back, then lost sub guard Devin Harris late in the third period with a sprained left ankle, climbed as close as nine, but never really threatened.
It would be too easy to say the clock ran out on them. This had far more to do with the work of four guys - Salmons, Ollie, Thomas and Nailon - who took maximum advantage of their opportunities.
"We just tried to bring energy, to play with reckless abandon, try and change the tempo; that's what we have up on the board, 'Change the tempo,' " said Ollie, who handed out five assists in a little less than 19 minutes. "We stayed up on defense, and that got us a lot of easy buckets. We're just not an offensive team that's going to outscore you. We've got to work our offense off our defense; that's what we did. That allows us to get out on the break, to use our athleticism a little bit. That's how we're going to have to win. We can't win any other way."
Most observers have thought all along that a lack of depth has been a problem; the guys filling those roles belied that theory against the Mavs.
"I don't read the newspaper, I just play basketball, stick with my teammates and coaching staff," Nailon said. "Whatever they write in the newspaper, that's their job. That's to get them happy. As long as we're playing together on the court and getting W's, then we make them look foolish."
This is how the subs looked to coach Maurice Cheeks:
"I thought everybody who came in the game for us did a good job. I thought our bench was real good. I thought our bench really changed the game for us. Those guys were big for us, particularly in the second half. Their pressure up the floor and ability to move the ball from side to side was huge for us. Those guys really gave us the cushion to win this game, and Kyle making shots makes it a lot easier for everybody. But I think this was about our bench. I think our bench was as good as we have been; the bench was good in Indiana [Saturday night] and was a factor in winning the game; our bench tonight was a major factor in winning the game."
The 29-5 run was largely the result of that effort.
"All night, they were playing into our hands until the end of the third," Mavs guard Darrell Armstrong said. "Then, it seemed like the momentum shifted in their hands and they just kept rolling. When you let a team build up a [19-point] lead, every once in a while, you're going to come back from it. If you do, you're going to die down at the end. I felt like we had a chance. They just made the right plays at the right time."
After which, they clocked out.
As far back as Opening Day, when most people were praising the Sixers for their adherence to the NBA's new "business casual" dress code, president/general manager Billy King was also getting messages from the league about some of the players' uniform shorts being too long. The result? The fashion police have fined the Sixers... Last night's announced crowd of 13,392 was the lowest since 10,976 saw a 9-92 loss to Milwaukee Feb. 16, 1999.