The Sixers won a game. It has been a while since anyone typed that sentence or uttered it out loud.
For the first time in three weeks, the Sixers came away with a victory instead of a defeat, beating the Golden State Warriors, 104-97 (see Instant Replay) Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. In the process, the Sixers ended a seven-game losing streak.
The last time the Sixers played at home, they got smacked by the Orlando Magic – and by Doug Collins, who was so disappointed and frustrated that he criticized the team in what became a well-publicized, much-talked about press conference (see story).
Saturday’s chat with the head coach was at the opposite end of the postgame spectrum. When Collins emerged from the locker room, his grandchildren were at his side and he was smiling.
“It was huge, it was huge,” Collins said about the win. “You look at our schedule and everything, everybody’s got us done and buried and everything. We’ve gone through this before. We said, tonight, let’s have something good happen and let’s try to build on it.”
Whether they build on it is another topic for another day, but something good did happen on Saturday. Several somethings, actually.
In 12 games before Saturday, the Sixers struggled mightily to score, averaging 86.3 points. The offensive end of the floor had been unkind and ugly to them, a brutal uphill slog that would make Sisyphus blanch. But against the Warriors, the Sixers shot 51.8 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from three-point range. It was the most points they’ve put up since Jan. 28.
A lot of that had to do with Evan Turner, who had one of his best nights as a professional. Turner was incredibly close to a triple-double, finishing with 22 points (on 10-for-15 shooting), 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“I always feel like I have an opportunity to get going,” Turner said. “You feel it and everything. But as a pro, you always feel like the next shot is going to go in. I don’t ever want to go out there and not be aggressive.”
The Sixers – who had 23 turnovers – were down as much as 16 points in the second quarter but went on an 11-0 run to cut the Warriors' lead to three at the half. Royal Ivey (who had a season-high 17 points) played excellent defense on Golden State guard Stephen Curry, who was held to just seven points in the second half. Thaddeus Young finished with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while Jrue Holiday added 27 points and seven assists.
As Collins noted, it was a “much-needed” outcome for the Sixers (23-34). Only 25 games remain and 16 of those, including Sunday’s meeting with the Wizards in Washington, are on the road. Before facing the Warriors, Collins addressed his players and implored them to do something they haven’t recently – “play with joy.”
“I also talked about playing through adversity at home – when we get down, not to let ourselves get too low and keep fighting back,” Collins said. “Tonight, we were down 16 points in the first half and fought back. We were down double digits in the second half and fought back. Which to me was an incredibly positive sign.”