By Sean Kennedy
OK, maybe the Eagles defeating the hated Cowboys in the final game of the regular season to earn themselves a trip to the playoffs had something to do with it, but surely fans were glad to see the Sixers win a game in regulation for the first time since Nov. 8, and their first road game since Nov. 1. With Pau Gasol out and Chris Kaman limited off the bench with an ankle injury, the Sixers dominated the points in the paint against the Lakers by a 52-28 margin. The Sixers also took advantage of a Lakers defense that doesn’t force many turnovers, committing just 10 on the night, which is almost unheard of for a squad that average 17.5 per game.
The old guard really led the way in this win with Thad Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes combining for 66 points. Thad continued his ‘I will not tank’ world tour, as he’s now averaging 27.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in four games since reports of his rumored trade request went public. Young also had one of those ‘where the heck did he come from’ blocks to deny a Jordan Farmar lay-up in transition. He didn’t make a three-pointer for the first time in four games but he had to cool off sometime and is still shooting an unbelievable 43% from behind the arc on the season.
Hawes had a terrific all-around game, dropping 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists, including a couple of his patented backdoor passes leading to great finishes by Evan Turner and Michael Carter-Williams. He also hit two threes on the night for the fourth straight game; it really doesn’t get said enough how effective it makes the offense flow when he can bring the opposing big man out of the paint to respect his outside shot. If he could ever develop a post game, that big Republican would be a perennial all-star.
Nick Young was determined to try and beat the Sixers single-handedly and fans were treated to plenty of iso-pull-up jumpers that are pure Swaggy P and made me momentarily hate the game of basketball last season. Young shot just 6-21 and committed 6 turnovers, although he did go 12-12 from the foul line on his way to a game-high 26 points. This was the classic Nick Young line that would get my dad and I into arguments last year; he’d point to the 26 points and I’d try to explain how ineffective he was in earning them. Anyway, he missed three shots in the final two minutes of the game as the Lakers were trying to make one final push so I’m happen the Sixers were on the other side of the Nick Young experience last night.
- Michael Carter-Williams stepped on Shawne Williams’ foot in the second half, and looked to suffer an ugly twisted ankle. However, he did return in the fourth quarter so we’ll have to keep an eye on that situation leading up to their next game Wednesday. Management might be nervous about the Sixers having won a game and sit their star rookie as a precautionary measure.
- For the Lakers, Xavier Henry suffered what looked like a bad knee injury in the first half. He said afterwards that he felt like something felt loose in there. You hate to see something like that happen for a young guy who was finally getting a chance to get consistent playing time in the NBA and was doing a pretty nice job with the opportunity. Hopefully, the MRI reveals a fairly positive outlook.
- Evan Turner finished with a 180-flush in the final second of the game on an uncontested fast break. It looked like a pretty classless move in the opposing team’s building and it visibly did not sit well with Nick Young and the rest of the Lakers after the game. I think Turner was just celebrating getting his first block of the season on the night, though.
Let’s see, this was a win over a team that the Sixers may likely be fighting for lottery position down the stretch of the season. And on top of that, it was led by the three guys all rumored to be potential trade candidates as the deadline approaches. I’m pretty sure this was an exact scenario I laid out in my tanking scale explanation column. Rest that ankle MCW. 1/5 tanks.