In a battle between teams with 4-game losing streaks, the Brand-less 76ers defeated the Clippers 100-92. The Clippers followed up last night's two point loss to the Kings by losing yet another very winnable game to the Sixers. Add to that the 3 preceding blowout losses, and the Clips end the 2008 calendar year with 5 straight Ls and a 8-23 record. We're still only 17.5 games behind the Lakers in the West (and Pacific) and 10.5 behind Phx for the last playoff spot. I'm just saying.
Another game, and another different Clipper starting lineup (11th this season). Tonight Mardy Collins started at the 3 and I immediately puked in the empty seat in front of me. It's, as always, for match-up purposes...but Iggy isn't exactly setting the net on fire to warrant the Collins offensive kiss of death. For those of you who thought QRoss was a nightmare, Collins must be the freaking apocalypse. Result: 2pts (an uncontested layup) on 1-5 shooting in 20mins.
Philly shot 57% in the first half to the Clippers 41%. So the Clips were extremely lucky to be only down by 3. The Clippers came out of halftime with great effort and execution, especially on the defensive end. They went on an immediate 11-0 run and the 76ers didn't get their first FGM until the 7:48 mark (and that was on a goal tend). It was a see-saw battle from then on, until the game was tied 86-86 with 3:12 to play.
Clippers possession. Baron has the ball and drives left baseline, gets doubled and the ball is deflected by Iggy out of bounds with 10secs remaining on the shot clock. Out of a timeout, the best shot the Clips get is a Baron fadeaway 20ft jumper, no good. On the other end, Iggy passes the ball deep in the paint to Thad Young for the easy lefty hook: 88-86 Sixers lead. Next, Thornton dribbles the ball off his foot, an unforced turnover. Then, Ratliff sets a screen on Fred Jones which frees up Lou Williams for the open jumper - good for a 90-86 Sixers lead. Note: now the Philly youngsters are giggling and laughing and doing choreographed handslap routines. Guilty culprits are Iggy, Williams, and Young.
Out of a Clipper timeout, Baron penetrates and gets Jones an open 3PA that's partially blocked. Miller gets the ball and flings a gorgeous bullet alleyoop pass from halfcourt to Young, who dunks it in: 92-86 Sixers. The Clippers follow up with 3 missed shots at the basket and a deflected pass from Baron to Camby. Then Miller AGAIN throws an alleyoop from just inside halfcourt to Iggy for the foul and the 2FTM: 94-86 and pretty much lights off, game over.
What separated the Sixers from the Clips tonight was alley-oop conversions. Camby to Thornton, offensive interference (0-1). Williams to Dalembert, clank off the backboard (0-1). Miller to Iggy, dunkaroo (1-2, 2pts). Miller to Iggy, catch and jam (2-3, 4pts). Miller to Iggy, put in plus the FTM (3-4, 7pts). Miller to Young, slam (4-5, 9pts). Baron to Camby, knocked away (0-2). Miller to Iggy, fouled for 2FTM (5-6, 11pts). Game, set, match.
Iggy filled up the stat sheet (27/7/7) but didn't shoot well from outside at all. He benefitted from Miller's passes and got a lot of freebies at the charity stripe (14-17). Thad Young had another excellent game against the Clips and he's really impressed me in both games this season. I'd trade Thornton for Young in a heartbeat right now.
The best Clipper PG tonight was Mike Taylor. His "DNP - finger injury" outperformed the two Clipper PGs that actually logged minutes. Biddy (he's not getting recognized for any D from me) scored 11pts, shooting 5-16. That's 49 straight games without shooting over 50% now, folks. I keep hearing that he's a "volume shooter" - let's just be glad for the sake of humanity that Bizzle's not a volume surgeon or something. The other local boy Jason Hart scored 0pts on 0-6 shooting. Welcome home, fellas.
The ESPN recap mentioned the "Fire Dunleavy!" chants at Staples tonight. Those have been there since last season, and were louder at other times this season. Tonight was the first time I've heard fans call out Baron ("Baron you suck!", "Baron you're doing nothing for us!", etc.) I don't know if it's because of the Stephen Jackson thing or what. But believe me, he heard every word. Whether that lights a fire under his butt or causes him to dog it (even more) remains to be seen.
If the Clippers went out to celebrate New Year's last night, I hope they made a resolution to actually "Play Loud" for the fans in 2009.