By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)New Orleans 99, Philadelphia 74 – Box Score
The last time these two teams met less than two weeks ago, the Sixers put forth arguably their best performance of the season in what has been their last victory to date. However, two fairly significant roster differences ensured Monday night’s rematch was nothing like the initial encounter. First, Michael Carter-Williams missed this game due to an upper respiration infection (which after Nerlens Noel missed a game with the same illness last week might be Sam Hinkie’s code for DNP-tanking). Even more material to the outcome was the inclusion of star big man Anthony Davis for the Pelicans, after the Brow had missed the previous contest with a toe injury.
As it turns out, having the player who some consider to be the best player in basketball back on the court makes a pretty big difference. Anthony Davis put forth what has remarkably become a ho-hum two-way effort for him, scoring 32 points on 12-19 shooting (and 8-8 from the line, an under-appreciated aspect of his game), in addition to recording 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 4 blocks. There was little the Sixers could seemingly do against what looked like a 6’10” robot programmed to swallow all basketballs both at ground level and in the air space 10 feet off the court. Davis routinely flew through the air for hellacious slams from the circle in transition, flushed alley-oops Tyreke Evans just threw into the air in the half court, and even drew fouls with a increasingly-developing post game. The Brow probably didn’t need any help to defeat the Sixers on the night, but did receive some from Ryan Anderson, who scored 19 points by hitting 4 of his 5 three-point attempts (twice as much as the entire Sixers team who went 2-15).
With Carter-Williams sidelined, Larry Drew II celebrated the signing of his second 10-day contract by receiving his first career start. Unfortunately, outside of one move where he nearly broke Eric Gordon’s ankles, it wasn’t Drew’s best night, as he was just 2-9 from the field for 4 points, and committed 4 turnovers against just 2 assists. For those wondering what the Sixers offense would like like without MCW jacking up a ton of shots and utilizing his high-risk, high-reward style of playmaking, well, 74 points speaks for itself.
As far as bright spots for the Sixers, Robert Covington’s shot wasn’t falling (2-11 including 0-4 from three), but he was active in other areas, tying the team lead with 6 rebounds and also recording a team-high 5 assists. The real encouraging play, though, came from the pair of second-round picks who I’m more convinced we need a nickname for with each passing day (the ‘We Make Sixers Game Bearable Brothers’?) K.J. McDaniels and Jerami Grant, who we learned from K.J. McDaniels’ mom are ‘inseparable’ off the court, are increasingly becoming indispensable on it as well. McDaniels led the team with 16 points on 5-8 shooting, also recording 3 steals and 2 blocks. Meanwhile, Jerami Grant dropped 10 points on 4-8 shooting, in addition to swatting another 4 shots, and submitting the highlight of the night in the waning moments of the game. This was a nice reward for those fans who stuck it out through the end of a blowout defeat:
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) January 27, 2015
I’m not sure what you should expect from a team forced to start a guy at point guard just brought in 10 days ago due to a variety of injuries and illnesses. Still, we’ll have to hope for a better effort Wednesday against Detroit, another team reeling from an injury at point guard with Brandon Jennings out for the season. Maybe the Pistons will become the first opponent to fall to the Sixers twice this season.