Pity poor Greg Monroe. The Pistons' big man was dominant against the Sixers tonight, as he has been for much of the season, going for 20, 8 and 3 in just 31 minutes against Lavoy Allen, Nik Vucevic and Elton Brand. But as it turned out, it couldn't have made less of a difference. The Pistons shot just 32% from the field for the game and turned the ball over 22 times, as the Sixers pulled out to a 16 point lead at half-time and never looked back. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time as the Sixers cruised to the 97-68 victory.
Not too much to talk about on the Sixers' end—they won the way they were winning earlier in the season, including in the two times they already steamrolled Detroit—by playing stifling perimeter defense (Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight and Ben Gordon shot a combined 8-30 for the Pistons' backcourt), by sharing the ball (Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams all had at least five assists) and by making sure that Andres Nocioni and Francisco Elson get as little court time as possible. (They only played a combined six minutes, but still managed a hilarious sequence where Nocioni shot a three in transition that got blocked, then Elson turned the ball over trying to make a feed from the post to a cutting Noc.)
Even though the Sixers' MVP tonight might have been Thaddeus Young—20 points and eight rebounds to match Monroe, and continuing his ridiculous season-long trend of stealing the ball more frequently than he turns it over with two swipes and one giveaway—Thad's night might end up being best remembered for the one play he didn't make. Streaking down the court on a fast break, one step behind the ball-handler Iguodala, Thad ended up taking a beautiful between-the-legs feed from 'Dre and soared towards the basket for the easy dunk. Then this happened.
If 'Dre looked a little pissed in the replay, it's hard to blame him—this should have been a season-highlight dish for 'Dre, one that would've dropped jaws even at the dunk-happy exhibition he just played in on Sunday. And young Thaddeus knew he really blew it, too, hanging his head in disbelief and grinning sheepishly for lack of a better response. It's easily the worst blown dunk the Sixers have had since 'Dre himself clanged an uncontested windmill dunk in Atlanta—though as with tonight, that game was a blowout, so it was easy to laugh about it afterwards.
Now, back to Philly for a meeting with the West-best Oklahoma City Thunder. Pretty safe bet that that one won't be as easy a W, but we'll all probably feel a lot more confident facing OKC off an authoritative one-game winning streak then an increasingly discouraging six-game slide. In any event, after the roughest couple weeks of the season, it appears it's time to enjoy Philly basketball again. WOOOOOO ELSON AND NOCIONI.