The Sixers recovered from the “giddyness” of their light practice today as explained by coach Doug Collins only to regroup and blow out the Washington Wizards 117-94. Eclipsing last season’s win total of 27 in the process. Jrue Holiday (20 points) and Thaddeus Young (18 points 10 rebounds) paced the Sixers.
The game took a surreal turn early in the third quarter as Wizards point guard Kirk Hinrich (in street clothes at the time) disappeared from the visiting Wizards bench as he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a five-player deal.
In the words of Sixers color man Mark Zumoff the Sixers “locked all windows and doors” last night holding the Wizards to 33 points in the second and third quarters on their way to a 117-94 victory. The Sixers are now 28-29 and are now looking to reach the .500 plateau for the first time in quite awhile.
The Sixers placed seven players in double-figures, led by Jrue Holiday with 20 points. The bench production was strong once again as Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Marresse Speights helped keep the Wizards at bay in the 4th quarter as the Sixers held the Wizards to 42 percent shooting from the floor.
Elton Brand continues to be the catalyst on the blocks as he finished with 15 points 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Brand, who scored the Sixers first six points to open the game talked about where his teammates are right now and where the newly formed Knicks have to get to. ”It was a big win for us,” Brand said. “We’re playing with a whole lot of confidence now.” Brand continued, “We feel good about the position we’re in - the Knicks, we’re watching them play right now …. They are going to take time to jell. I think we’ve done that in the last few weeks.”
Despite the player movement going on in the division the Sixers brass for the moment looks content with their young roster that has jelled remarkably the past two months. “I don’t know if it’s an advantage,” Collins said, “but I know there isn’t a feeling-out process where new players are coming into your team and you’re trying to bring them into the mix. We have a nice rhythm right now with Lou (Williams) knowing what he’s doing and Evan (Turner) and Thad (Young), and Mo (Speights) tonight.”
Sixers President Rod Thorn, known for wheeling and dealing has made it known that they will listen to potential offers. “I like our team,” Thorn said before the game. “Does that mean we wouldn’t do something if the opportunity presented itself? No, we’ll look at everything.”
In the early going, the Sixers resembled a team in a post all-star funk as their lethargic play contributed them trailing 31-24 after one quarter.
The second quarter saw the Sixers outscore Washington 30-18 to take a five-point lead into the intermission.
That’s when things became unravelled for Flip Saunders’ team.
Prior to halftime word began to circulate that Wizard point guard Kirk Hinrich was in the centerpiece of a five player swap that would bring the Wizards among other players the Hawks Mike Bibby.
On the court, center Jevale McGee got into a shouting match with assistant coach Randy Wittman and had to be restrained by Andray Blatche (Whose name was spelled B-A-L-T-C-H-E on his jersey - he is the longest tenured Wizard). After the game John Wall and McGee expressed their frustration with the Wizards current state.
“Nobody has heart,” Wall said who scored a game-high 21 points along with 12 assists. “I ain’t lost this many games and it ain’t just about the losing. I’m listening to my coaches and they’re developing me. They don’t want want to get a losing mind-set. It’s frustrating to see that certain guys don’t have the effort to want to be out there, like they don’t care. That’s the toughest thing for me. No matter if I’m having a bad game or good game, I may show my frustration on my face, but I’m going to compete. That’s one thing I did my whole life, and that’s compete.”
McGee added, ”We’re tired of losing. Tensions build up when you’re tired of losing. Coaches and players, we’re tired of losing. That’s it,” McGee explained. “It’s very embarrassing. We’ve just to figure it out. We’ve really got to figure it out.”
It looks like the Sixers have it figured out, so much so that player and coach seem to be on the same wavelength, “There’s a trust factor now with these guys, knowing what each guy can bring to the floor, which guys need help when they’re defending, where guys like the ball, the execution of the offense,” Collins said. “We had a stretch where we ran one play three different ways and Thad scored on it every time, and it was fun to watch.
“In fact, I was getting ready to call another play and Lou said, ‘No, let’s run the other side of it,’ and he got Thad the dunk. That’s when you’re seeing players start to think, and that makes me feel good. When my team thinks, I love that.”