Jan 20, 2012, 10:20 PM EST
Andre Iguodala detractors are once again going to look at his 5-12 shooting on Friday night to finish with only 11 points in almost 40 minutes of play as yet another sign that the Sixers’ glue-man is overpriced and expendable. These people are foolish. It’s true his jumper wasn’t falling, but the rest of his play more than made up for it. The job Dre did shutting down the Hawks’ potent scorer Joe Johnson was fantastic, holding him to a mere 8 points on 3-8 shooting in 31 minutes.
Shutting down opposing team’s best scorer is an aspect of his game that Iguodala takes great pride in and realizes might be overlooked by many of the more casual observers.
“It’s something I’ve always tried to set myself apart from other players since I was a kid,” Dre said of his D. “That’s an area that’s overlooked. The game is so caught up in who’s scoring what or stats. Defensively, that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, but I take pride in going up against those guys. Tonight was one of the harder players to guard. People always ask ‘who are the hardest players to guard?’ Joe Johnson is right up there, top five… top three. He’s so strong. He’s stronger than any other two guard in the league.”
And Dre shut him down for the majority of the evening.
And then there were the earth-shattering dunks in the pivotal third quarter, most of them off of turnovers generated by the Sixers’ swarming defense that lead to breakaways and eventually Dre slamming the rock home with authority. That got the impressive crowd of 17,724 at the Wells Fargo Center off their feet and really pushed the Sixers hometown edge into overdrive. Dre said he’s used to getting the crowd excited with his slams, but it can really rile up some of the younger guys.
“It helps, definitely, it helps. But I think it plays a huge effect on our young guys. They get excited. It gives them a boost of energy so it’s really good for our team.”
The most jaw-dropping of Dre’s slams was the alley-oop from Jrue Holiday that Iggy threw down in a Hawks’ defender’s face to set South Philadelphia off and give the Sixers all the momentum in the world. [video above]
And let’s not forget Iguodala’s two steals on the evening, sending him over the 1,000 steals mark for his career, moving him into the franchise’s top 5 leaders all-time in that category.
“It’s definitely something that I’ll always look back on in my career,” Iguodala said of being in the same company as Mo Cheeks, Allen Iverson, Dr. J, and Charles Barkley.
Iguodala should pass Sir Charles some time in the next few weeks to move into fourth all-time.
The third quarter on Friday night was perhaps the best this Sixers team has played all season. The Sixers’ defense was tremendous in the third, holding Atlanta to 4-17 shooting, and the Hawks basically said mercy.
Atlanta coach Larry Drew may have said it best regarding the third quarter, “It got tough for us and we quit. That’s what happened.”
Having Andre Iguodala in your face can make a team want to do that.
See more of Dre’s rocking slams here:
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