Collins misses end of Sixers' impressive win over Knicks

Collins misses end of Sixers' impressive win over Knicks

January 26, 2013, 11:45 pm
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It kind of figures that in the Sixers’ most impressive home victory of the season that Doug Collins was not courtside to see the confetti rain down after the final buzzer.

Instead, Collins was in the locker room being attended to by team internist Dr. Daniel Lazowick for a sinus infection while the Sixers rolled to a 97-80 victory over the first-place New York Knicks (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers shot 50.7 percent from the field and got a career-high 35 points from All-Star Jrue Holiday, who also dished out a game-high six assists to go with five rebounds and just one turnover.

Still, Collins didn’t have to worry much over the outcome of Saturday night’s game. After all, the Sixers outscored an opponent in the first quarter for just the 11th time this season. More importantly, the Sixers are 10-1 in those games as they halted a two-game losing streak to climb to within two games of the Celtics for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Better yet, the Sixers (18-25) also put themselves in the position to win back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 30.

And to think, Collins wasn’t even around to see it. (He lost a tooth prior to the game, drew a technical during the first half -- for which he will be fined -- and ultimately left with what Lazowick deemed a blocked nasal passage. He received antibiotics. Rough night.)

“I think we just kind of came out of nowhere,” Holiday said. “We were very connected tonight and played really well as a team and we looked up and we had that lead. I think after that the hardest part is keeping that lead because we’ve blown some before. But to go up by 20 points and add on it was a big deal.”

Still, Collins was around long enough to set the new-look starting lineup, which very well may have been the catalyst to Saturday’s victory. Since the Sixers were struggling early in games and weren’t too dependent on the bench to add to the team’s scoring punch, Collins replaced Lavoy Allen for Spencer Hawes at center.

Though Hawes didn’t light it up on offense — he shot 2 for 4 and missed two foul shots — but he battled All-Star Tyson Chandler in the paint and had four blocked shots.

Meanwhile, Collins added Nick Young to the starting lineup in place of Jason Richardson, who sat out for the third straight game with an injured left knee. With Richardson out, Young played 41 minutes, scored 20 points and had four assists for the fifth time in a game this season.

In what may have been the Sixers’ most complete defensive effort of the season, there really wasn’t much of a reason for Collins to hang around past the first time out in the third quarter. Besides, from the 11:21 mark of the third quarter to the 3:49 mark, the Knicks missed 12 straight shots as the Sixers went on an 18-6 run.

“We’ve been on our guys about playing 48 minutes when we play some of these better teams,” said assistant coach Michael Curry, who ran the team in Collins’ absence. “Last time out against San Antonio we watched the last six minutes for an hour and 15-minute film session. For our guys we had to learn how to finish out games and tonight we stayed with the things we wanted to do.”

The Knicks shot just 34.6 percent from the field, including 4 for 27 from three-point range. More telling, the starting backcourt of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton combined to score just eight points … and Felton had all of those points.

Better yet, the Knicks’ starters shot just 13 for 47 from the field for just 40 points.

That’s defense.

“We really just keyed on their key guys,” Holiday said. “I think we made them work. I think we made Carmelo (Anthony) work even those he’s a workhorse and he’s [really aggressive].

“They played really aggressive, but we played better defense.”

It didn’t hurt that Holiday poured in a career high, either. Shooting 16 for 25 from the field, Holiday scored 10 in the first quarter to help the Sixers get that early lead they so coveted.

“I think that was the key,” Holiday said about the early lead. “I don’t think [Collins] is lying when he says most games we try to fight back, we lose. I think getting a good start, getting that lead in the first quarter, gives us a better chance to win.”

And to think, Collins wasn’t even around during the second half to see it all go down. At least this time, his best-laid plans came through.

Finger Rolls
With Jrue Holiday (35) and Nick Young (20), Evan Turner also had a solid offensive night, scoring 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Turner also led the Sixers with six rebounds. … Nick Young got four assists in a game for the fifth time this season. Heading into the season Young had only handed out four assists in a game 13 times in 357 regular-season games. … The Knicks were led in scoring by Carmelo Anthony, who had 25 points. However, with Thad Young, Damian Wilkins and Turner all taking turns guarding him, Anthony shot just 9 for 28 from the field, including 0 for 6 from three-point range. … Meanwhile, Knicks’ star JR Smith was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting while Iman Shumpert missed all six shots he took from the field to finish with one point. … In 12 games during January, Spencer Hawes has averaged 1.83 blocks per game.