By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Philadelphia 89, Detroit 69 – Box Score
69 points scored. 2-20 from behind the arc. A 20-point defeat. It was the type of game Sixers fans have become all too accustomed to over the past year and a half. The only thing is: the Sixers went and flipped the script Wednesday night, as it was the Pistons being held to those cringe-worthy marks in Philadelphia’s most dominant wire-to-wire win of the season. The 69 points allowed and 20-point margin of victory were both season-best totals for the club, who earned a rare and well-deserved standing ovation from the Wells Fargo Center crowd in the final minute.
The Sixers were all over the Pistons just about from the get-go, as an 18-0 first quarter run put them ahead 24-4, a lead they were able to keep at a comfortable margin for the entire contest. Coach Brett Brown received terrific contributions across the board; every starter was at least a +22 plus/minus on the game. Michael Carter-Williams finished 1 rebound shy of a triple-double with 14 points on 5-10 shooting, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists (albeit against 5 turnovers). Robert Covington hit 4 of 5 threes for a team-high 19 points, with those triples often coming at timely moments when the Pistons looked like they were clawing their way back into the game. Nerlens Noel was quiet offensively, but put forth another impressive defensive effort with 4 steals and 2 blocks. JaKarr Sampson even had one of his ‘Oh, that’s why he’s on a NBA roster’ games with 13 points on 5-6 shooting (2-2 3PT) and 8 rebounds.
Two factors even kept this game as close as it was: 19 Sixers turnovers and the play of Greg Monroe. Monroe almost literally was the only source of offense for Detroit, recording 20 points on 8-15 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds. If there was one nit to pick about Noel’s defensive game, it was that Monroe was able to use his strength to bully Nerlens around the hoop a bit; on occasion, Noel tried to gamble for steals rather than stand his ground on the block.
Still, it didn’t matter much as Monroe received almost no help from his teammates. D.J. Augustin did not ably fill in for Brandon Jennings on this night, shooting 0-7 for 2 points. Jodie Meeks took a game-high 16 shots but made just 4 of them, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did not make a strong case for his inclusion in the Rising Stars All-Star game, finishing 2-9 for 4 points. Any of Covington, K.J. McDaniels, or Jerami Grant looked like they were much more deserving than Caldwell-Pope of that honor on this evening.
Speaking of the Sixers’ buddy bench brigade, while McDaniels and Grant didn’t have as big an impact on the game as the starting five, they did provide some of the biggest moments. Grant was incredibly active defensively, registering 2 more blocks, including an outstanding close-out of an Anthony Tolliver corner three that was both an athletic play and a heady understanding of the defensive rotation he was supposed to make. He also unleashed this Mortal Kombat Fatality on Jonas Jerebko:
The best part of that play might be McDaniels throwing his hands up afterwards like a true witness at a tent revival meeting. McDaniels didn’t have the SportsCenter-worthy top-10 dunk in this game like Grant, but he did provide us with a nice clip we can use if anyone ever asks, ‘Can you show me K.J. McDaniels’ potential in 10 seconds or less?’:
The effective close-out and block of a three-point shooter, immediately getting out in transition, the athletic flush. How did this guy ever fall to the second round? We may never know but I’m sure glad he did. The Sixers and all their blossoming young stars will be back in action Friday against Minnesota, who are coming off a victory themselves against the Celtics.