The Philadelphia Sixers (26-40) escaped in what was a nail-biter against the Portland Trail Blazers (31-35). Doug Collins went with the a starting lineup that involved Damien Wilkins. This decision seemed questionable, but after Wilkins started the game 4-4 with 8 points, no one doubted Collins’ decision. The Sixers were also looking to win the last of their 4 game home stand and end up with a 3-1 record.
To begin the game, it was a battle of the big men. Spencer Hawes and LaMarcus Aldridge both started off hot and each team trade buckets. The game was very up tempo and not much defense was being played. The Sixers did display good ball movement in the half-court offense and on the fast break. The Sixers tied their season-high for field goal percentage in the 1st quarter. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, Aldridge kept his team in the game with 16 1st-quarter points (he finished with 32 and 14 rebounds). In the 2nd quarter, Aldridge began to cool down and the Sixers began to pull away. They had 10 assists on 11 field goals and the had 4 players with double-digit points. They went into the half with an 8 points lead in large part, because of their +5 turnover margin.
This game had a very wild ending. The Trail Blazers erased a 14 point deficit with wide open threes. Throughout this run, they were 4-8 from beyond the arc. All-Star Jrue Holiday, deemed this to be the time to takeover and he did it effectively. He was contested threes when needed, and made his open jump shots. With 33 seconds left, Holiday hit a running jumper to put them up by 5.
LaMarcus Aldridge has 1 three on the season (game-winner against Mavericks) and his second came via a contested fadeaway over 2 Sixers’ players to put the Blazers down by one. After 2 Holiday free throws, Damian Lillard nailed a three to put them down by one. The Sixers attempted to inbound the ball but Holiday tripped over Dorell Wright which resulted in Thaddeus Young’s pass going out of bounds. Portland then got the ball but Aldridge was unable to make a post fadeaway over Spencer Hawes.
Keys to Sixers’ Victory:
1. Ball Movement
The Sixers had a season-high 31 assists on 43 field goals led by Holiday and Wilkins who had 6 each. They had 5 players with double-digit points. They were not forcing bad shots and this caused them to shoot 50% from the field. This ball movement has led them to win 3 of their last 4 games.
2. Interior Defense
This has been problematic for the Sixers all year, but they only allowed 28 points in the paint to the TrailBlazers. The Sixers also had 8 total blocks. With the news that Bynum will not play for the rest of the year, they must continuously play this way.
Player of the Game: Jrue Holiday (PHI)
Holiday completely took over the 4th quarter and it was necessary. He hit big shots when needed and carried the Sixers to victory over the Trail Blazers. He finished with 27 points on 11-21 shooting and 6 assists.
Honorable mention goes to center Spencer Hawes, who had his second-straight double double (18 points, 13 rebounds). Hawes is averaging 16.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.75 blocks per game in his last four contests.