Well, that was a thoroughly miserable experience. Watching sports is
rarely fun if your team is losing, but watching sports where it seems
like it's actually both teams that are losing but it's your team
that's losing the most is just the worst. I hoped the Sixers could close
out the Bulls in decisive fashion in this one, but the only thing
"decisive" about this game was how decisively crappy Andre Iguodala's
fourth quarter was and how decisively quickly everyone in the country
without a rooting interest in this game flipped the channel to the
series finale of The Voice.
You could probably tell about this one early, when the score was still
16-12 Sixers and there was already less than a minute to go in the first
quarter. (I squinted at my TV several times, convinced I was just
reading the clock wrong.) Little did I know that was about as good as
things were gonna get for the Ballers—they scored 10 points on 17% (!!)
shooting for the entire second quarter, and barely scraped the 20s in
the two quarters after that, as the Bulls managed to scrape together
some semblance of an offense, increasing the lead to about ten late in
the third, putting the game totally out of reach for the bumbling
Sixers. Final score: Bulls not a lot of points, Sixers even less.
The really remarkable thing about this game was how the Bulls managed to
look invincible in that second half while still playing totally
mediocre. Luol Deng achieved folk hero status in Chicago for his 24
point, 10-19 effort—which, while mildly impressive, would maybe be the
third best performance in a game involving two competent NBA teams.
Carlos Boozer, meanwhile, felt like he was having a career game, though
he ended up with 19 points on 9-20 shooting. 19 points on 20 shots!
That's not even a good game! But tonight, it was good enough that for a
stretch, he legitimately seemed unstoppable. That's the kind of game it was.
The number of Sixers I'd like to call out in this game is a large one,
since their best player on the court tonight was probably Jrue Holiday
(who scored 16 points on resounding 5-17 shooting), but I need to make
mention of the truly superlative fourth quarter we were privy to from
Andre Iguodala. My roommate Jason has a theory about 'Dre, which is that
there are only two things in this world he truly loves:
2. Not leading the Philadelphia 76ers
I proposed that he add "Making 1 of 2 free throws" as a third thing, but
he countered that this could be folded into category #2, which was fair
Anyway, tonight was a pretty textbook example of passion #2 (without
nearly enough #1, IMO). He had a subpar game going into the fourth
quarter, what with Deng going off (sic) and the not much scoring or
assisting, but he did at least have a made three, and well what do you
expect he's Andre Iguodala. But the finale frame took things to the next
level for our All-Star swingman. The entire quarter, Andre did a total
of two good things:
1. He drew a shooting foul and made 2 of 2 free throws (!!!!!)
2. He stole the ball from Ronnie Brewer and dished to Spencer Hawes for a fast break layup (and one).
That's it. Here's how the rest of Iguodala's fourth quarter went, as the world was crumbling around the Sixers:
9:26: Pulled up for an 18-foot jumper while double teamed. Shot blocked by Omer Asik.
6:43: Pulled up for three-pointer from the wing with 18 seconds left in
the clock. Shot rims out badly and leads to Bulls fast break and bucket.
3:26: Tried to spin in the lane looking for a fast-break layup. Ball stripped and stolen by Ronnie Brewer.
2:50: Drove the lane to score against two defenders. Shot blocked by Luol Deng.
0:28: Missed wide-open catch-and-shoot three from the corner.
It was just one atrocity after another for 'Dre, who ultimately finished
with 11 points on 4-19 shooting, four boards and one assist.
Look, I know I shouldn't get on Andre Iguodala too much. I still like
'Dre, really I do—it's not like anyone else on this team stepped up
either—and I want nothing but good things for him in the future. I just
want them for him on another team at this point. It's not like we're
still in the process of deciding whether or not he can be a
fourth-quarter leader for the Sixers—we now know with a fair amount of
certainty that he can't. But it's unfortunate that just in case we were
unconvinced that he couldn't, he always seems willing to provide yet
another example. We are now firmly in "Change of Scenery" territory with
Back to the game at large—well, whatever. If we win Thursday at home
then it's meaningless, if we lose Thursday then it's also meaningless,
but in a more depressing way. This game was the absolute pits and the
less we learn from it the better. One good thing, though: The nation
will certainly be rooting for the Sixers on Thursday, simply so that
this series can be over and they won't get sucked into watching any more
games like this. I SEE YOU JERMAINE PAUL!!