Michael Carter-Williams had a double-double in the Sixers' 121-105 loss to the Pelicans Friday night. (AP)
The first time they played the Pelicans this season, it didn’t go well for the Sixers. At all. New Orleans smacked the visiting Sixers that night and won by 37 points.
Friday’s rematch at the Wells Fargo Center wasn’t nearly as ugly for the Sixers. The Sixers played better -- and yet the ultimate result was the same. Pelicans 121, Sixers 105 (see Instant Replay).
Some thoughts on the game…
1. Holiday's return to Philly
Jrue Holiday spent the first four years of his NBA career in a Sixers uniform. He became an All-Star for the first time last season while he was still in Philadelphia. Then he got traded on draft night, much to his -- and almost everyone else’s -- surprise.
Holiday returned to Philly for the first time since being packed off to the Pelicans. He said the biggest difference for him this year is that he isn’t asked to score as much as did with the Sixers. Maybe. But he scored plenty Friday. Holiday had a double-double, posting 20 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds. Oh, and just one turnover.
Friday was a reminder of what Sixers fans have known for a couple of years now: Holiday is really good. And he’s only 23.
2. MCW's impact
Even when he isn’t shooting well, Michael Carter-Williams still impacts the game for the Sixers. He hit just four of 13 shots against the Pelicans, but MCW had 10 assists, including a beautiful no-look to Hollis Thompson in the second quarter. He could have had more assists, but some of his teammates fumbled what should have been a few easy looks near the basket.
3. Thad's taking threes
Thaddeus Young entered the game averaging 1.4 three-point attempts per game -- by far his most shots from distance since the 2009-10 season when he took 2.1 three per game. The difference? Back then, Young hit just 34.8 percent from distance. This season, he’s been much better, shooting 40.9 percent (9 for 22).
Young hit two three-pointers against the Pelicans. Earlier this week, in his first game back after an absence for personal reasons, Young made two three-pointers against the Magic. Seems Brett Brown wants that shot -- rather than the long two -- to be part of Young’s game this season.
4. So is Hawes
The same goes for Spencer Hawes. Hawes entered Friday’s contest averaging 3.8 three-point attempts per game. The most three-point attempts he averaged before this season was back in 2008-09 when he took 1.5 shots from distance per game.
Hawes was 2 of 6 from three-point range against the Pelicans. He’s been excellent from deep this year, hitting 47.4 percent (28 for 59). It’s a big (and long-overdue) shift in organizational philosophy. Forget the deep-two. Take the extra step back, even if you’re a big man, and shoot the higher-valued three instead. It makes so much sense.
5. Dominant Davis
Anthony Davis crushed the Sixers in their first meeting. The brow filled the box score that night, posting 13 points (on 50-percent shooting), nine rebounds and two steals. He also had a career-high nine blocks -- seven in the first half. He only played 29 minutes that night because the game was over before it even began.
Davis had another big game against the Sixers on Friday, scoring 22 points (on 11 of 20 shooting from the field) to go with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks. He’s a monster. Davis and Holiday are already one of the best point guard/big man tandems in the league.
6. High scores, little defense
Lots of points, very little defense. That’s how it went Friday evening. That’s how it has gone for the Sixers so far this year. That’s how it is likely to go. They lead the league in pace (possessions per 48 minutes). Not surprisingly, they entered the game with the fifth-worst defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed over 48 minutes). Play fast and you can score a lot of points -- and give up a lot.