Monday, March 4, 2013

Brotherly Love

The Philadelphia 76ers had seen brighter days. Andrew Bynum, their star center, who was supposed to give them a front-court edge over top teams in the Eastern Conference, has been sidelined due to a right knee injury, and is now considering season-ending arthroscopic surgery. To make matters worse the 23-34 Sixers have been blasted in the media by none other than head coach Doug Collins, who continues to grapple with an underachieving team that was came to within one game of a conference finals appearance just a season ago. Meanwhile, there have been rumors out of Philly that Collins' position may be up for grabs by season's end, and that assistant coach Michael Curry may be the best fit for the gig.

Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday has averaged 19.1 points and 8.5 assists this season, earning his first all-star appearance last month in Houston.
Sixers assistant coach Aaron McKie was one of the more popular players in Philly during the Iverson era, and was the recipient of the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award in 2001, a year in which the Sixers won the Eastern Conference title.
Sixers center Spencer Hawes has averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his 2012-13 campaign in Philly.
After defeating the Warriors in a much-needed win the previous night, the Sixers paid a visit to the nation's capital on Sunday evening to take on the Washington Wizards. The Wizards were coming off a loss to the Knicks on Friday night, and were looking to avenge 92-84 loss to the Sixers in Philly on January 30th.

It was a tired crowd at the Verizon Center. The official attendance was listed as 17, 370, but only about 7,000 actually showed. Before the game, I had watched several of the Sixers players placing bets on who could hit the longest shot from behind the backboard. Philadelphia has clearly mailed it in for the year. I didn't get the sense from the Sixers' body language that they had any interest in trying to turn this season around.

Despite the comatose audience, I still took over 400 fan photos for the evening, and was able to watch about half of the 4th quarter of what was a surprisingly intense game.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal drives on Sixers guard Damien Wilkins
Bradley Beal tries to finish a dunk attempt over Sixers forward Thaddeus Young
Jrue Holiday goes behind the back on John Wall
Spencer Hawes pulls down the rebound

John Wall flies in for the reverse layup
John Wall vs. Jrue Holiday
Wizards forward Nene shoots over Sixers forward Thaddeus Young
Jrue Holiday finds a cutting Thaddeus Young. Bradley Beal, left, sprained his ankle on this jump.
Thaddeus Young converts the layup, as Bradley Beal rolls his ankle
Sixers forward Evan Turner pleads his case with referee Scott Foster
John Wall is defended by Jrue Holiday
Nene is surrounded by Sixers defenders
John Wall and Nene talk things over during a timeout
Wall races up the court against Holiday
Wall sank two clutch free throws to give the Wizards an 88-87 lead.
John Wall tries to drive past Jrue Holiday
Wall is defended closely by a reaching Holiday
Sixers forward Evan Turner defends Wizards guard Martell Webster
After grabbing the offensive board, Nene looks to pass back out to the perimeter around Sixers forward Dorell Wright. left, and center Spencer Hawes, right.
John Wall directs traffic during the closing moments
The Sixers took an 87-84 lead on a Thaddeus Young layup with 2:10 left. On the play, the Wizards got a major scare, as Bradley Beal rolled his ankle, falling to the ground in pain. Beal would leave the game, and not return. He is now listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle.

After Beal was carried back to the locker room, John Wall knocked down a jumper to make it a one point game with 1:33 remaining. Wall was then fouled by Jrue Holiday on the next Wizards possession, and sank two free throws to give Washington an 88-87 lead with 1:04 left to play. After an Evan Turner brick on the other end, Martell Webster had an opportunity to seal the deal on a three-point attempt that went off iron. Fortunately, Nene was there for the offensive rebound, and kicked it out to Wall, who drained a pull-up jumper with 4.9 seconds left to put the Wizards up by three. After a Philly timeout, Dorell Wright had one more chance to tie the game for the Sixers, but missed a three-point shot from the corner, and Washington held on for 90-87 victory behind 16 points a piece from John Wall and Martell Webster. Emeka Okafor added another double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Dorell Wright led the Sixers with 15 points off the bench. Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes, and Jrue Holiday each contributed 14.