Spencer Hawes finished with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals Saturday night. (AP)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Sixers beat the Portland Trail Blazers, the best team in the Western Conference, 101-99 Saturday night to improve to 4-1 on their West Coast swing and 12-22 overall (see Instant Replay).
To say that these 10 days after Christmas have been satisfying would be an understatement.
“I give the guys so much credit for fixing the things that we were so poor at when we played [Portland] the last time,” Brett Brown said. “It starts and ends with our defense. Then you get a little bit more specific and you look at the three-point line which we dumped so much of our heart and soul in to trying to guard and we did that.”
The Sixers held the Trail Blazers to just 3 for 22 shooting from behind the arc. The Blazers had dropped 21 threes on the Sixers out of 37 tries in the previous meeting back on Dec. 14.
To think, the Sixers had lost 13 straight road games before beating the Lakers in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, and now they are riding a four-game winning streak, all on the road.
“It is a testament to the guys in here and their resiliency,” Spencer Hawes said after finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in front of 55 family members and friends in attendance.
“I don’t think we played very well in that Phoenix game, but we bounced back and momentum is a crazy thing. Once you get it you can’t let it go, and we have it right now.”
The Sixers held the Blazers to their lowest field goal percentage of the season at 36 percent. That was quite a feat considering the Sixers allow the sixth-highest opponent’s field goal percentage (.464) in the league.
“We are a team that is growing,” Brown said. “We are a team that is slowly finding an identity in regards to defense, and we have always had an identity with pace and offense. But we are slowly finding an identity with defense within ourselves. We know we have a long way to go.
“I think once everybody admitted that we have a problem that we have to fix and nothing good is going to happen unless we address it and fix it and as a group commit that we are going to get it done defensively, then I felt like we saw the light and we kept moving forward. I attribute this West Coast trip to that solely.”
The Sixers were led in scoring by Thaddeus Young who posted 30 points. The Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
“I think we paid our dues. We’re taking our turn, and we keep working our way up the hill,” said Evan Turner, who scored seven of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. “The most important thing is [defense] and our communication. You can tell we are all really together out there and that was big tonight.”