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Shooters Keep Shooting: Jodie Meeks Finally Gets Hot, Sixers Beat Pistons

Jan 6, 2012, 11:34 PM EDT

A late-game hot streak from their shooting guard powers the Sixers over the visiting Pistons in their home opener.

It’s one of the oldest cliches in sports, about how sometimes, a shooter
just needs to see it go in once to help get his touch back. Very
rarely, however, do we see the cliche proven as explicitly as Jodie
Meeks did tonight. Jodie was in the midst of his worst slump as a
Sixer—entering tonight’s action, he was just 9-27 from the field this
season and 3-14 from deep, before posting an 0-fer in the first half
tonight. He was about two quarters away from the first of what was sure
to be a number of annoying “Should Jodie Meeks still be starting?”
discussions—until finally, in the third quarter, he connected on a
mid-range jumper, his first basket of the night.

It seemed
innocuous at the time, and I probably wasn’t the only one to give Jodie a
little sarcastic cheer at his finally draining one, but then he hit the
next one too. And the one after that. All of a sudden, Jodie Meeks was
back, and he was winning the game for the 76ers—he hit four threes in
the second half, three in the fourth quarter, allowing the Sixers (who
outplayed the Detroit Pistons all night) to finally pull away a little.
By the time his heat-check three officially ended his unexpected hot
streak, the damage was done, and the Sixers were well on their way to a
convincing 96-73 victory over Detroit, moving them to 4-2 for the
season.

As already alluded to, the Sixers seemed like the better
team by far all night—as well they should have, considering they were
playing a 2-4 team missing key players like Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon
and Charlie Villanueva—but the Pistons were able to keep it within
single digits for most of the night, thanks to some cold shooting nights
from Jrue Holiday (5 points on 2-9 shooting, though with nine assists)
and Elton Brand (also 2-9, averaging just barely over eight points a
game now), and some sloppy play from Andre Iguodala (1-4 for 5 points
with 4 TOs, and some definite boos from the WFC crowd). But the team was
still moving the ball well and getting good looks, and playing solid
team defense on the other end, and the Jodie hot streak was all it took
for the Ballers to finally break things open.

Again, Spencer
Hawes was the best player on the court for the Sixers for most of the
game. Spence notched his fourth double-double of the season—he had six
all last year—with a 16-14 line that saw him scoring just about every
way possible from inside the arc. After one long jumper, he even earned a
“SPEN-CER HAW-WES!!!” chant from the fans, certainly a Wells Fargo
Center first. He didn’t score a single other point after that—though he
just missed a three that would have absolutely brought the house
down—but it was fantastic to see his impossibly improved play in person
at the WFC, and I was proud of our fanbase for acknowledging him
accordingly.

All right, so Detroit aren’t exactly the Heat, and
indeed, none of the four teams they’ve beaten have exactly looked
post-season locks. But consider this—over their first six games, the
Sixers have a total point differential of +72, or +12 per game. (For
contrast, the Heat had a +53 through six, and the Thunder had just a
+14). They haven’t just been beating the teams they should beat, they’ve
been killing them, and their two losses—neither of which even
look all that bad now, as the Jazz have climbed to 4-3 and the Blazers
have played like the best team in the West—each came down to the last
possession. 1/11 of the way through the season, all data points to this
team being way ahead of where they were last year, even towards the end.
(Lest we forget, the last time we played a regular-season game against
an undermanned Pistons squad at home, they won.)

And at the very least, the 4-2 Sixers remain at the top of the perch
in the Atlantic Division, with the chance to add further separation
against the second-place Raptors (HAH) tomorrow night when they visit
the WFC. Get on the bandwagon, guys. There were far more asses in the
seats tonight than the last few home openers, but there’s still plenty
of tickets left out there, no doubt. This team is a good team—and now we
even have a shooting guard, too.