By Sean Kennedy
Philadelphia 123, Detroit 98
January 29th. That was the date of the last Sixers victory. Since then, we have been treated to some embarrassing blowouts, a flurry of trades, 10-day contracts galore, and even a few heart-breaking defeats thrown in for good measure. However, one game after the team tied the NBA-record for most consecutive losses, the Sixers ensured the 2010-11 Cavaliers wouldn’t be completely forgotten in the record books, man-handling a listless Pistons team in their most dominating effort of the season. Let’s see the profile on this game, SportsCenter.
Of course, Philadelphia received plenty of help from a Pistons group equally incentivized to lose at this point of the season. Detroit owes their protected first-round draft pick to Charlotte, only keeping it if the selection lands in the top 8. Currently, the Pistons hold the 8th worst record in the NBA and their on-court demeanor shows they have every intention of staying there. The Pistons made a number of dumb turnovers in the backcourt in the opening minutes which led to easy Sixers buckets, as Philadelphia won the rare turnover battle 18-14. Later in the first quarter, Brandon Jennings got himself ejected arguing some inconsequential call; it looked like he had every intention of trying to get back to the locker room as soon as possible.
That isn’t to say the Sixers didn’t play well, because it was easily one of their better games of the season. The ball moved crisply on offense and the team knocked open shots down on the perimeter, shooting 12-21 from three, including a perfect 4-4 from Hollis Thompson. Returning after missing three games with an ankle injury, Tony Wroten morphed into Chris Paul with 9 assists against just 1 turnover. After the Pistons had dominated the Sixers on the glass in the previous meetings between the teams, the new big man combination of Henry Sims and Jarvis Varnado helped the Sixers actually win the battle of the boards 46-44. Varnado even chipped in with 6 blocks on the night. With a Sixers team uncharacteristically hitting threes, taking care of the basketball, and facing an opponent ready to roll over at the first sign of resistance, it was the perfect confluence of events to break an epic skid. Now, we’ll see if Philadelphia can earn their first winning streak since early January against a free-falling Hawks team Monday night.
- When the Sixers took a 14-point lead in the 2nd quarter, it was already their largest lead at any point over the 26-game losing streak. The fact that they didn’t lead a game by that much ever over the course of two months is about as astounding as the losing streak itself. They went on to have over a 30-point advantage, which accounted for their largest lead of the season.
- The 70 points in the first half was the highest total of the season for the team. It was a night of highs for the Sixers and it was no wonder Zumoff and Rose literally broke out into song as the final seconds of the game ticked off the clock.
From a tanking perspective, this win represents a disaster for the Sixers’ lottery prospects. Milwaukee unsurprisingly laid an egg against the Heat Saturday night and the Bucks are once again two games below Philadelphia in the standings as part of the worst overall seed sweepstakes. With total games remaining now in the single digits, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Bucks win enough games from here on out to bypass the Sixers in the standings. Still, it’s hard not to feel good for Thad Young, Brett Brown, and everyone else in the organization who have been pouring everything they have into this team to try and secure a victory. We saw Tony Wroten dropping dimes, Hollis Thompson hitting triples, and Jarvis Varnado swatting everything in sight. For now, that will have to be enough. 2/5 tanks