That Felt Good: Sixers Grab Second Win of Road Trip in Los Angeles

That Felt Good: Sixers Grab Second Win of Road Trip in Los Angeles
January 1, 2013, 8:46 pm

Though probably the best win so far of their season, it was hard to feel
totally satisfied by the Sixers' upset of the Memphis Grizzlies in
Memphis the other day—the game was too weird, too fluky to really be
taken seriously, and felt way more like a Shit Happens loss for the
Grizz than a substantial victory for Philly. Well, not tonight—tonight,
the Philadelphia 76ers just outplayed the Los Angeles Lakers, with their
best players stepping up in a big way and taking their second game in
five tries on this road trip, a better start than we had
feared/anticipated when the team was losing everything in sight.

Jrue
Holiday and Evan Turner were simply magnificent tonight. Jrue was one
of the few Sixers that played well in their Saturday loss at Portland,
with 29 points and nine assists, but he turned the ball over seven times
and came up short several times down the stretch. Against LA, though,
his performance was just about flawless, picking the Laker defense apart
for 26 points and ten assists, this time with just a single turnover to
go with it. Every pass he made was on the money, every shot
well-intentioned, every move creative and considered. I also thought he
played good aggressive defense on Steve Nash, though Nash still ended up
with a double-double (12 and 10) because he's Steve Nash.

Evan
had a lot further to bounce back from tonight, coming off easily the
worst three-game stretch of his season, averaging just five points and
five rebounds over the three contests, and occasionally looking lost and
downright lethargic on offense. He looked much sharper tonight, though
it's easy to look sharper when you're hitting your jumper, as the
Extraterrestrial was all game, finishing with 22 points on 8-14
shooting, his best scoring night in weeks. Evan was also
near-kamikaze-like in his assault on the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds
against the significantly oversized Laker frontlines, and also poured in
five assists (with just one TO) and sporadically inspired defense on
the likes of Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant (who, of course, still
poured in 36).

But incredibly, the best player for the Sixers
tonight just might have been Spencer Hawes. Spence's resurgent 2012
season took a bit of a stumble in the team's last two losses, including
the Warriors game where he played less than ten minutes and averaged
over a foul per two minutes, but he was the man tonight, scoring 13 on
5-9 shooting (including some huge shots down the stretch) and
getting the offense flowing with his season-high five assists, including
a couple gorgeous looks to Evan open and on give-and-go dives to the
basket. More impressively, Hawes held his own down low with Dwight
Howard, who struggled to just seven points on the night, and ended up
registering four blocks, just a week after swatting five in Memphis.
Maybe the mullet had to go after all.

Very good win tonight,
minus some inexcusable gaffes (J-Rich and Evan's respective 0-fers at
the free throw line with a chance to ice the game on separate occasions
was pretty awful) and some luck with L.A.'s three-point performance
(just 3-22 for the night, not a rate likely to be repeated at Staples
anytime soon). At this point with the Sixers, you'd way rather see the
team win a tough road game because their best players played awesome
basketball, not because Dorell Wright got insanely hot from behind the
arc. It's some promising shit for sure.

The Sixers get a chance
to keep on feeling good, feeling great tomorrow night, visiting Steve
Nash's old team, the Phoenix Suns. Can the Ballers stay undefeated in
2013? Does Evan Turner love the movie Pitch Perfect? Go Sixers.

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