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Friday, January 30, 2009

Sixers' Bench Leads Them Past NBA Worst Wizards

The Sixers beat the Washington Wizards 104-94 tonight at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers are finally over the .500 mark at 23-22, while the Wizards fell to an NBA worst 9-37.

The Sixers were led in this game by great play off of their bench. Their bench scored a total of 40 points, including 14 points and seven assists from Lou Williams. Williams made a great play at the end of third quarter hitting a buzzer beater three for his first points of the game. Elton Brand scored nine points and blocked four shots.

Andre Iguodala proved he should have been an All Star again tonight, scoring 20 points. Willie Green tied his season high with 20 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Thaddeus Young also played a great game scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Samuel Dalembert left the game early with a sprained left ankle. The ankle was X-rayed and the results were negative, but he will most likely sit out tomorrow at home against the New Jersey Nets.

The Sixers shot well from three point land but could not convert from the free throw line. They made 9 of 23 from beyond the arc for 39.1%. But from the stripe, they made just 11 of 20 for 55%.

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Caron Butler added 20 points and five assists. Dominic McGuire scored a career high 16 points.

The Sixers play host the New Jersey Nets tomorrow at the Wachovia Center.

Postgame Q&A With The Dream Shake

After the Sixers' latest win over the Houston Rockets, I did a Q&A with Lee Grammier of, one of the best Houston Rockets' blogs on the web. You can view my thoughts on the way the Sixers played here, but here is his view of the game.

Your thoughts on the game?

The 76ers have a long way to go to be a good team, but I think they have it in them. They took advantage of the Rockets just rolling over late, and bad teams can't do that. Andre Miller 5 years ago would have this team in a much better position, but I think it is just about over for him. I've seen trade rumors with Brand and don't understand them. He's a good player and a likable guy, no reason to give up on it so soon.

The Rockets have a long way to go to make any noise in the playoffs this year. Honestly, I'll just let my next few answers go for that.

Three things the Rockets did well?

1. Played the first quarter
2. Played the second quarter
3. Played the third quarter

Three things the Rockets did not do well?

1. Forgot that the 4th quarter was a part of the game.
2. Play like a team. The guys do this all the time lately. The offense is working, the team is in the flow of the game, then they let up a few easy baskets and they can't get out of the offense fast enough. Our defense has lacked all year and it's been the downfall to coming out of the offense.
3. Yao didn't play enough late, and they didn't feed the ball to him to get consistent possesions.

Should Artest and Yao have rushed back to the court from injury?

Yao's injury was just a bruise, no big deal, those happen. It was more pain than injury and he played fine. He was getting double and triple teamed and the guys did a good job taking his passes through three quarters and then completely went away from it late. I think he did a good enough job to win the game even if he didn't have his usual good shooting night.

Ron's injury can't be healed in the time that the Rockets have this year. The doctors have told him he's not really going to hurt himself more so much as he just has to deal with the pain. He can't push off well and that's why he's not really dunking or playing lock down defense. He just needs to get his head in the offense. I put that more on Adelman than on Ron as he's not telling him to stop shooting the three, and I think he's actually encouraging him to do it or it would have been stopped by now.

How did you like Iguodala's dunk on Yao?

You've hit a nerve with that one. Not because it wasn't a great dunk, or because Iguodala doesn't have insane hops. You've hit a nerve because he didn't "dunk on Yao". He went up for a dunk, and Yao came over late. He didn't take him one on one to the basket and go over him, and I'm not saying he's not capable of that, just saying he didn't do that. It's one of the most overused terms in basketball and as a Yao Ming fan I hear it all of the time, and very rarely is it actually true. It was still a great dunk though, and I rather liked it as a basketball fan.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sixers Get Comeback Win Over Houston Rockets

The Sixers beat the Houston Rockets on the road last night 95-93 after coming back from 14 points down. The Sixers are 2-0 in the season series against the Rockets. The Sixers next game is against the Washington Wizards on Friday.

Andre Iguodala was key to the comeback. He scored 20 points including a jumper with 36 seconds left in the game to help the Sixers go ahead. Andre Miller added 16 points, seven assists, and three steals. Miller to Iguodala also provided the best highlight of the night, an alley-oop that Iguodala converted in Yao Ming's face.

Samuel Dalembert played another great game, controlling All Star center Yao Ming the entire game. He outrebounded Yao 13 to 9, and also had four blocks including blocking Tracy McGrady's three point attempt at the buzzer.

The bench also had a great outing for the Sixers. Elton Brand proved that he is back, scoring 14 points in 26 minutes and grabbing seven rebounds and getting six blocks. Lou Williams scored 17 and racked up six assists in 29 minutes.

Turnovers and missed three pointers plagued the Sixers the entire game. As a team, they went 1 for 12 from three point land for 8.3%. They also turned the ball over 18 times, mostly in the first half which resulted in them being behind at halftime and into the third.

However, the Sixers converted their opportunities from the free throw line. They made 20 of 21 as a team, including 8 of 8 from Andre Miller. Miller did a great job driving in and drawing foul after foul.

Tracy McGrady led all scorers with 24 points including 3 of 4 from three point land. Luis Scola scored 18 points and brought down 10 rebounds. Yao Ming scored 13 points.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thaddeus Young Selected to Sophmore Team in 2009 Rookie Challenge

Sixer small forward Thaddeus Young was selected to All NBA Sophmore team to square off against the Rookie Team on February 13 during the NBA All Star weekend as part of the Rookie Challenge. In his second year out of Georgia Tech, Young is averaging 13.7 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Dwight Howard will be the assistant coach for the Sophmore team. Young will be joined by Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola of the Rockets, Wilson Chandler of the Knicks, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green of the Thunder, Al Horford of the Hawks, Al Thorton of the Clippers, and Rodney Stuckey of the Pistons.

Happy 25th Birthday Andre Iguodala

Would just like to wish Andre Iguodala a happy 25th birthday today. Hopefully he is going to have a big game tonight against the Rockets for a little birthday celebration.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

76ers-Knicks: Iguodala and Miller Lead Sixers To Victory

The Sixers beat the New York Knicks tonight 116-110 at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers improved to 21-21, getting back up to .500 after dropping below it with their loss against the Mavericks.

The two Andres led the way for the Sixers. Iguodala scored 24 points, grabbed seven boards, and dished out six assists. Miller 21 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out five assists and also hit 7 of 7 from the free throw line including some clutch ones at the end to ice the game.

Thaddeus Young added 17 points and Lou Williams added 10 from off the bench. Willie Green (Caution: May Contain Basketball Like Substance) scored 14 points. In total, the Sixers had six players in double figures.

The picture is of Samuel Dalembert for a reason. The Haitian Sensation scored 10 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Yes, you read that correctly, 17 rebounds. He played so well that Tony DiLeo had to keep him on the court, as Dalembert got 34 minutes while rookie Marreese Speights had just 12.

Elton Brand's return from injury was nothing to cheer about. He played very limited minutes (just 12 in all) and ended with just six points and three rebounds.

The Sixers' three point shooting was average tonight. As a team, they went 6 for 15 for 40%. It is better than they have been in the past, but not how they have been shooting over their win streak. Iguodala shot just 1 of 5 from three point land.

For the Knicks, Nate Robinson led the way with 26 points and six assists. Tim Thomas added 24 points and David Lee scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Chris Duhon scored 18 points and dished out five assists.

Next up for the Sixers: New Orleans Hornets, Monday

Sixers Going Old School For Next Season

Kate Price, the Sixers' Vice President of Business Operations announced yesterday via a fan forum that the 76ers will be returning to the old school logo and uniforms starting next season. These are from the early 1980's and the home jersey is white and the road jersey is red.

I do not really care what they wear or what they're logo looks like, I just want them to win some games.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lou Williams For Sixth Man of the Year?

Lou Williams has been one of the keys to the Sixers' offense this season, and he definitely deserves some consideration for the Sixth Man of the Year Award if he keeps playing the way he has recently.

He has scored in double digits in 10 consecutive games now. In the Sixers' most recent game, a loss to the Mavericks, Williams had a game high 25 points. He had all those points in just 26 minutes by hitting 4 of 9 from three point land.

His passing has gotten better recently as well. He dished out six assists in three consecutive wins over the Hawks, Trailblazers, and Spurs, three of the best teams in the NBA.

In his last five games he is averaging just 26.8 minutes per game but 15.8 points per game. On the season, he is averaging 22.3 minutes per game and 12.7 points per game.

He has been one of the keys to the Sixers' resurgence because he always provides a good offensive boost off the bench. If he can keep up his recent performance through the rest of the season he could be in the running for the award.

Maurice Cheeks Hired As Grizzlies Assistant

Grizzlies head coach Marc Iavaroni was fired late Thursday night after just one and a half seasons with the team. His rough relationship with star Rudy Gay was one of the main reasons for the firing.

Former Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson declined the offer for head coaching job. Assistant coach Johnny Davis will take over as interim coach before Bucks' assistant Lionel Hollins will be introduced as the new head coach in the next few days.

Recently fired Sixers' coach will make a return to coaching after he was hired as an assistant to join Hollins. The Grizzlies have a nice young nucleus of players: Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, and Darrell Arthur. However, the Grizzlies are way out of the playoff hunt and already have their eyes set on next season.

Trade Deadline Rapidly Approaching

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Sixers need to make that move for them to get over the hump from pretender to contender. What will that move be? Here are a few moves that would help the Sixers' needs and work out with the salaries.

PF/SF Vladimir Radmanovic, Los Angeles Lakers


PF Reggie Evans
SG Kareem Rush

Another possibility here instead of Kareem Rush is to put in Royal Ivey, but Ivey has played well as of late and I would rather ship the turnover machine Rush than the sweet-shooting Ivey. Radmanovic is bigger than Reggie Evans, but clearly a much better shooter than Evans or Rush. When he gets hot, his shot from behind the arc is smooth.

The Sixers' two biggest trading chips are Samuel Dalembert and Andre Miller. Dalembert has played some of his worst basketball this season and Miller's numbers have taken a hit as well. This is Miller's last year under contract with the Sixers and he most likely would not want to return next season.

PG Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls


PG Andre Miller

This trade would not help our shooting very much, but on defense it would add a much needed boost as Hinrich is a far better defender than Miller.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Throws The New Three Pointers For the Sixers?

The Sixers used to be the worst team in the NBA in three point shooting. But now Tony DiLeo has given them the green light to shoot more and given them confidence which has raised their team percentage from beyond the arc.

But now a new problem has faced the Sixers: free throw shooting. The Sixers have not been fantastic from the line all season, but in the last two games they have been particularly bad.

In their win against the New York Knicks, the Sixers shot 15 for 27. In their loss against the Mavericks, they shot 14 for 21. Overall, they have made just 60.4% in their last two games and 74% for the season, which puts them near the bottom in the NBA.

Who's to blame for the Sixers' free throw woes? Here are some repeat offenders.

Reggie Evans - 37 of 60, 61.7%
Willie Green - 28 of 41, 68.3%

Monday, January 19, 2009

Andre Miller Skipping Practice For The Inauguration

There is another Sixer guard set to skip practice, and no it is not Allen Iverson this time. Andre Miller has announced that he will be attending Barack Obama's presidential inauguration tomorrow despite not voting in the election.

Apparently, some of Miller's friends got tickets and invited him so he decided to go. He will also attend one of the balls later in the day. The Sixers will most likely hand him a fine for skipping practice.

Miller told YahooSports, "I'm conservative, I'm whatever basically. Yeah, I would have voted for Obama. But I like to keep my views to myself. I'm still excited."

Last time I checked, you do not need to announce to the world who you vote for. Miller could easily have voted for Obama and still kept his views to himself.

Elton Brand Injury Update

Although Elton Brand was expected to play in today's loss to the Mavericks, the Sixers decided to wait until Saturday to insert him back into the lineup. Since the Sixers have the whole week off, it will give Brand an extra week of rest as he recovers from a dislocated right shoulder suffered on December 17.

Coach Tony DiLeo has said that Brand will most likely play against the Knicks Saturday, but will not start. He will bring Brand off the bench to slowly remove the rust that comes from not playing for over a month.

The Sixers have gone 9-7 without Brand, including a seven game win streak that ended today against the Mavericks. With Brand in the lineup, the Sixers went 11-14.

76ers-Mavericks: Sixers' Win Streak Comes To a Close in a Heartbreaker

Coming into this game, the Sixers were riding a seven game win streak. But all win streaks must come to an end and that is exactly what the Dallas Mavericks did to the Sixers this afternoon at the Wachovia Center. The Mavs won 95-93 on a last second two point shot by Dirk Nowitzki.

The Mavericks improved their record to 24-17, while the Sixers fell back under .500 and now sit at 20-21.

The Sixers were up 46-42 at the half, but a big third quarter by the Mavericks where they outscored Philadelphia 32-17 made the fourth quarter an uphill battle for the Sixers.

The Sixers fought back at the end of the fourth quarter to even the score up with eight seconds remaining on an Andre Iguodala two point shot. But then Dirk Nowitzki hit the two point buzzer beater to hand the Sixers' their first loss in eight games.

Lou Williams led all scorers with 25 points in just 26 minutes off the bench. That is almost a point a minute! Andre Iguodala continued his hot streak, scoring 18 including the tying two point jumper and he added 12 rebounds.

Andre Miller added 12 points and seven assists, and Thaddeus Young and Royal Ivey both added 11 points. Rookie Marreese Speights did not play well, scoring just two points and grabbing one board in 17 minutes. His +/- on the game was a dreadful -10, which is the team's net points while he is on the floor.

The Sixers were expecting to have Elton Brand back for this one, but they decided to keep him inactive and give him an extra week's rest before their next game on Saturday.

Despite the loss, the Sixers continued their recent success with three point shooting. As a team, they shot 41% from behind the arc including three of three from Iguodala, four of nine from Lou Williams, and two of five by Royal Ivey.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 24 points including hitting 10 for 10 from the free throw line. Jason Kidd scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and had six assists. Josh Howard added 10 points and eight rebounds and Jason Terry added 20 points and four steals off the bench.

76ers' Midseason Report: Pros and Cons

With almost half of the season's games already in the bag and All Star Weekend rapidly approaching, it is time for a look back at how the Sixers did in the first half of the season. After a slow start to the season where the Sixers looked like one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA, the Sixers have righted the ship and are currently riding a seven game win streak. They are also .500 for the first time since November 24 and are second in the Atlantic Division.


Andre Iguodala

The Sixers season has gone where Iguodala has gone. When he started the season on a scoring slump averaging just 13 points a game, the Sixers got off to a slow start as well. But now that he has scored at least 20 plus points in 10 of his last 12 games, the Sixers have won seven games in a row to improve to .500.

All aspects of his game have improved since the beginning of the season. In November he was shooting 40% from the field and 29% from three point land. He was averaging 13.3 points per game, 5.1 assists per game, and 1.6 steals per game. His woes continued into December shooting just 17% from beyond the arc.

However, in January Iguodala is shooting 57% from the field and over 48% from three point land. His scoring average is up to 23.6 points per game and he is averaging 6.7 assists per game. His steals are up to 2.1 per game. He is even limiting his turnovers now, averaging three per game in November down to 2.2 per game in January. Iguodala has been the main force behind the Sixers turn around and they will need to continue to bank on him if they want to keep winning games.

The Bench

Many teams in the NBA, including the Celtics for one, have trouble finding points off the bench. The Sixers have not had that problem this season. Rookie Marreese Speights and Lou Williams have played so well in reserve of the starters that they continue to get more and more minutes as the season rolls on. Both players have really seen their playing time increase under new coach Tony DiLeo.

Lou Williams has averaged 12.3 points per game in an average of just 22.2 minutes per game this season. He still needs work on not turning the ball over as much, but has been a great scoring option for the Sixers off the bench. Although he has been in the league for a few years, Williams is still very young at just 22 and is still developing into a great player for the Sixers.

Rookie Marreese Speights has been a pleasant surprise for the Sixers and has been one of the best rookies in the NBA this season. On the season, he is scoring 8.3 points per game in just under 16 minutes per game. But as the season has progressed he minutes and scoring have increased. In January, he is averaging 11.3 points per game in 20.5 minutes per game. He is also up to six rebounds per game this month.

Although he is still a liability sometimes on defense, Speights' offensive ability is too great to leave on the bench which is why he continues to get quality minutes. With Elton Brand set to return very soon, Speights' minutes may take a little drop, but DiLeo will still try to get Speights in the game as much as possible.

Thaddeus Young

Young continues to show that he is one of the best young players in the league. In just his second season out of Georgia Tech, he is averaging 13.4 points per game and five rebounds per game.
Young scored a career high 27 points on January 16 against the San Antonio Spurs, and also scored 22 January 11 against the Hawks. He has been a big factor in the Sixers' latest winning streak.

Young has also been one the Sixers who has helped turn around their three point shooting woes. He is averaging 51% from behind the arc in January after shooting 25% in December. He has also been a model of consistency for the Sixers, keeping his scoring average about the same the entire season while being a great sidekick to Iguodala.


Samuel Dalembert

Dalembert's numbers have taken a sharp drop this season, as he is averaging five less points and two less rebounds per game than he did last season. The only reason he remains the starter at center is because he is still an effective shot blocker and defender. Marreese Speights commonly receives more minutes than Dalembert because of Dalembert's inability to produce at the offensive end.

The worst part about it is that Dalembert is second in votes among Eastern Conference centers to Dwight Howard for the All Star game. I am still deciding if this is an insult or an honor for the Sixers and Dalembert if he does end up making the All Star game.

Elton Brand

Prior to his injury, Brand was having one of his worst statistical seasons of his career. He was averaging just 15.9 points per game while his career scoring average is 20.1 points per game. His rebounds are about the same as his career average, but his blocks are down and his turnovers are up.

The Sixers started off horribly with Brand in the lineup. It was hard for Andre Iguodala to adjust to becoming the secondary option on offense and his scoring suffered. But with Brand sidelined, the Sixers have played well and are currently riding a seven game win streak. When Brand returns, he will need to play better if he wants to convince fans that the Sixers made the right choice in signing him to a big contract in the offseason.

Brand is set to return to action on Saturday, but coach Tony DiLeo has said that he will come off the bench at first to work out the rust that comes with being out for about a month.

Three Point Shooting

Although it has improved over the past few games, the Sixers' three point shooting in the first half of the season was dreadful. They were last in the NBA in three point shooting through the end of the December making just 29% of their three point attempts. Iguodala was one of the main offenders, shooting just 17% from behind the arc in the month of December.

Since then, Iguodala and the rest of the team have improved their three point shooting. As a team, their three point shooting percentage is now 33%, tied for 25th in the NBA. Iguodala's percentage is up to 48% in the month of January.

The Sixers will need to continue making their three pointers if they want to keep winning games. Their woes from behind the arc were the main reason for their slow start and are also the motor behind their current win streak. If the Sixers continue to drop shots from long range, this may soon advance into the Pros section, but for now it still remains a weakness for the Sixers.

Three Point Shooting: The Reason Behind the Sixers' Latest Success

The Sixers' three point shooting woes date farther back than just the beginning of this season. It can be attributed to when they traded Kyle Korver to the Jazz in what appeared to be a straight salary dumping. Korver was, and still is, one of the best three point shooters in the NBA and his departure left the Sixers without a true scorer from outside.

Therefore, it was no surprise this season that the Sixers were last in the NBA in three point shooting through the first few months of the season. It was also little surprise that because of their lack of shooting from the outside, they were losing a lot of games. The top three point shooting teams are also some of the best teams in the NBA: Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets, and the Portland Trailblazers.

Meanwhile, joining the Sixers at the bottom of the team three point shooting category through December were the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Washington Wizards, teams that are at the bottom of the barrel as far as records are concerned.

But as of late, the Sixers have changed there ways. They have started winning first of all, as they currently ride a seven game winning streak which has improved their record to 20-20 and are .500 for the first time since late November. But they have also started shooting the three ball a lot better.

The Sixers have raised their three point shooting percentage from 29% through December to 33% through January 19. Instead of being last in the NBA in three point shooting, they are now tied for 25th.

Andre Iguodala has been the main player igniting this three point scoring surge. On the season, he is shooting just just under 30% from behind the arc. But in his last five games, Iguodala is 14 for 23 for almost 61% from three point land. This includes three of four against the Atlanta Hawks on January 11 and four of six against Portland on January 14.

Iguodala has scored at least 20 in 10 of his last 12 games and has raised his scoring average from 13 points per game through December to 17.5 points per game currenty.

But the three point shooting success cannot just be contributed to Iguodala. Lou Williams has made 6 of 17 for 35% in his last five games and four of eight for 50% in his last two games. Royal Ivey has made three of eight in his last five games getting limited minutes off the bench.

To those worried about how Elton Brand's return will affect the surging Sixers, his play should only help the Sixers newly found three point shooters. If he is able to attract double teams inside it should leave an open jump shooter on the outside. But the difference between the beginning of the season and now is that instead of missing the shot, the shooter will sink it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

After a Slow Start, Andre Iguodala Has Stepped Up For the Sixers

Last season, Andre Iguodala had a great year especially down the stretch for the Sixers. He averaged 19.9 points and just over two steals a game to lead the Sixers to a playoff berth. But at the beginning of this season, Iguodala started out small for Philadelphia. But now he seems to have finally returned to his old self and is one of the hottest players in the NBA.

Iguodala averaged just 11 points in the month of October and 13.3 points per game in the month of October. He had trouble adapting to a secondary role behind new acquisition Elton Brand. But now with Brand out with an injury, Iguodala has stepped up his game to lead the Sixers on a four game winning streak.

Iguodala averaged 19 points through the month of December and is now averaging 21.4 through five games in January. In November, he shot just 40.7% from the field, but in December he raised that to 47% and is currently at 45% in January. He hit 9 of 13 shots in the Sixers' latest victory over the Hawks.

His season averages are still low at just 16.5 points per game, but they are on the rise. His steals are also up to where they were last season, as he is now averaging 2.2 steals per game in the month of January.

One of the main struggles of the Sixers as a whole and Iguodala in particular is three point shooting. But even that seems to be coming around for the Sixers and Iguodala. Iguodala has made five of eight from three point land in his last two games. The Sixers as a team shot 9 of 15 from behind the arc in their latest win against the Hawks, the first time they have shot over 50% from three the entire season.

Iguodala has helped the Sixers turn their season around and go on a little win streak that hopefully will continue to lead to even greater success. Now only if the Sixers can catch a little Phillies, and now Eagles, fever to help lead them out of the first round of the playoffs this season.

76ers-Hawks: Iguodala Comes Up Big Again As Sixers Win Fourth Straight

The Sixers have finally seemed to pick up where they left off at the end of last season after winning their fourth straight game. They beat the Atlanta Hawks on the road 109-94, running away with the game in the fourth quarter. The biggest factor in the game has to be three point shooting, as the worst three point shooting team in the NBA in the Sixers shot 60% or 9 of 15 from behind the arc. The Sixers improved to 17-20 while the Hawks fell to 22-14.

The Sixers shot 62.9% from the field in the first half and 54.7% overall. This is the highest field goal percentage against the Hawks all season.

Andre Iguodala led the way once again, scoring 27 points, six rebounds, and nine assists including a few alley-oops with Samuel Dalembert. Iguodala shot three of four from behind the arc and has been the motor behind the Sixers' latest win surge.

Thaddeus Young added 22 points and nine rebounds. Dalembert blocked four shots. Andre Miller scored 19 points and had nine assists. The bench contributed well in this game as well for the Sixers, with Lou Williams scoring 11 and Marreese Speights scoring 12 and grabbing eight boards. Speights also caught an alley-oop pass from Williams and dunked it home.

Speights and Williams continue to get more and more minutes as they continue to play great. Speights played 23 minutes while Dalembert played 25. Williams played 25 minutes, while Willie Green played just 17.

Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby led the way for the Hawks, with Johnson scoring 25 and Bibby scoring 22. The Hawks were without starting forward Al Horford, and it hurt them the entire game.

The Sixers starting forwards were able to score a combined 56 points and the Sixers outrebounded the Hawks 39-24. The Sixers will play the Portland Trailblazers on January 14.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

76ers-Rockets: Iguodala Has Another Hot Shooting Day To Lead the Sixers to Victory

It was a nice return to the Wachovia Center for the Sixers as they defeated the Houston Rockets 104-96 Tuesday night after a third quarter surge where they outscored the Rockets 26-16. The Sixers improved their record to 14-20 while the Rockets fell to 21-15.

Andre Iguodala led the Sixers to victory with another great day from the field. He played for 42 minutes, scored a game high 28 points, all while shooting 12 of 19 or 63% from the field. He also tallied was a factor on defense, tallying four steals.

Iguodala is back to the top form we expected from him coming into this season. In November, he averaged just 13 points per game and shot 40.7% from the field. In his past four games, he is averaging almost 26 points a game and is shooting 58.4% from the field. He has even made three long range shots during this four game hot streak, although he is still dismal from three point land.

Samuel Dalembert is the only Sixer currently slated to represent them in the All Star game as the backup center in the Eastern Conference to Dwight Howard. Dalembert played just 13 minutes due to foul trouble and scored just two points and brought down five boards.

The Sixers received great contributions off the bench from Lou Williams and rookie Marreese Speights. Williams scored 15 points in 26 minutes and also had eight assists. Speights scored 15 points in 22 minutes while grabbing eight boards and blocking four shots.

For the first time all season, the Sixers had a better shooting percentage from three point land than their opponent. Houston shot 5 of 19 for 26.3% from behind the arc, while Philadelphia shot 3 of 9 for 33.3%. Going into the game, the Sixers were last in team three point shooting percentage with 29% dropping from behind the arc.

The Rockets had six players in double digits led by Luis Scola. Scola scored 18 points and had 17 rebounds. Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Von Wafer, and Carl Landry all added 14 points each.

Each team had the same amount of total rebounds and total assists, 41 rebounds and 23 assists.

This game was the first game back at home for the Sixers after a season-high six game road trip in which they returned from 1-5. Their lone win came against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Sixers play tomorrow at Milwaukee and on Friday at home against Charlotte.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Marreese Speights Has Been One of The NBA's Most Productive Rookies

Many rookies this season were thrust right into the starting lineup and have performed very well. O.J. Mayo has been a scoring machine for the Memphis Grizzlies and Derrick Rose has been the top point guard for the Chicago Bulls. But for someone who at the beginning of the season was thought was going to have little to no impact, Marreese Speights has defied expectations in Philadelphia this season.

After seeing limited minutes early on in the season, Speights has seen an increase in minutes under interim coach Tony DiLeo and because of the injury to Elton Brand. In his last five games, Speights has been on the court an average of 19.8 minutes per game and is scoring 10.8 points per game.

Compared to the great power forwards that came out in this year's draft, Speights is right up there with the best. Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat is averaging 24 minutes per game and is scoring 13 points a game. Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves is averaging 22 minutes per game and 7.6 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game. After a hot start to the season, Jason Thompson of the Sacremento Kings is averaging 24 minutes a game and 9.2 points per game.

Even with these players averaging more minutes per game than Speights because of their teams not being as deep at the power forward position, Speights is a more efficient scorer than all of them. His 50.8% from the field is better than all three of the other power forwards listed above.

Speights has played so well that his PER, or his Player Efficiency Rating, is tops among all rookies at any position. PER is stat developed by John Hollinger of ESPN to measure how efficient a player taking into account how many minutes the player is on the court. Speight's PER is 19.61. Michael Beasley's is 14.08, Kevin Love's is 14.63, and Jason Thompson's is 12.87. Speight's PER is even better than the Derrick Rose's at 16.12 and O.J. Mayo's at 16.40.

I am not claiming that Speights is better than any of the above names, at least not yet. He still has a lot of work to go, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Speights can sometimes be a liability on defense, letting opposing players get good position down low for easy baskets. Once Speights is able to improve his defensive game, expect him to get more playing time and be a major contributer down the road.

76ers - Clippers: Sixers Break Four Game Losing Skid With Win Over Lifeless Clips

It has been a tough road trip for the Sixers, and getting their first win of this game road trip was important. Unfortunately, the Sixers entire season does not have games against the Clippers, as Philadelphia improved to 2-0 against Elton Brand's old team for the season with a 100-92 victory on New Year's Eve.

This time was a little different though, as Elton Brand did not make the trip with the Sixers due to his dislocated right shoulder. It turned out the Sixers would not need him in this one, as they got great contributions from their other three team leaders; Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, and Thaddeus Young.

Iguodala had 28 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds leading all scorers. Andre Miller added 15 points and nine assists, and Thaddeus Young scored 20 shooting 10 of 14 from the field. Theo Ratliff played a season-high 27 minutes at center, grabbing eight boards and four blocks.

The win improved the Sixers to 1-3 on their six game road trip, with tough games at Dallas and at San Antonio on deck. Tony DiLeo improved to 4-4 as interim head coach, the only interim head coach anywhere near .500.

The Sixers had another terrible day shooting from behind the arc, shooting just 1 for 9 or 11.1%. Royal Ivey made the Sixers' lone three pointer. The Clippers had 18 turnovers and the Sixers scored 25 points off of them, leading them to victory.

Al Thorton led the Clippers with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Marcus Camby added 16 points and 16 rebounds. Rookie Eric Gordon scored 21 points in a team high 43 minutes. Baron Davis had a quiet game with just 11 points and eight assists.