Skip to content

Sixers Lead Amazing Fourth Quarter Comeback Against Blazers, Lose Anyway But Still

Dec 27, 2011, 1:24 AM EDT

The Philadelphia 76ers couldn't quite make up a 16-point deficit against the Trail Blazers in Portland.

“You know the NBA season is back when Andre Igoudala is missing last
second shots,” commenter DTrain aptly put it. Still, you can’t get too
mad at ‘Dre on this one—it was more than a little miraculous that the
team was even within one possession of tying the game up with under ten
seconds to go against the Blazers in Portland. A barrage of
fourth-quarter threes had put the Blazers up as much as 16 in the 4th,
and with the Sixers still trailing by six with under a half-minute to
go, it seemed like a wrap.

But then Lou Williams—and we know he can do this, God bless him—hit a
pair of awkward, low-percentage threes, and Ray Felton missed a key free
throw to give the Sixers the ball with just a three-point deficit in
the game’s final seconds. Then, just a minute or so after hitting a
couple of equally-improbable threes himself, ‘Dre launched a bomb from
the wing, on-line but shallow. It clanged off, the miracle comeback not
to be. Final score: Blazers 107, Sixers 103.

The fourth-quarter surge covered up a lot of ugliness from the Sixers,
most in the first and fourth quarters, including 20 turnovers (seven
over last year’s average), a 17-9 deficit in offensive boarding, and
fouls upon fouls upon fouls in the second half. Still, a number of
Liberty Ballers turned in fine performances on the whole. ‘Dre and Sweet
Lou combined for 47 points, with Iguodala also chipping in eight
boards, three assists and four steals. Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand
got burned a little by LaMarcus Aldridge on defense, but shot well,each
going 5-9 with ten points and eight boards, and Evan Turner had some
nice moments, also scoring ten points (on 5-11 shooting) with four
boards and two dimes. (Watch those hands, though, Evan—can’t have you
fouling out of too many more of these games.)

But for the Sixers, the night belonged to Spencer Hawes. Yes, that
Spencer Hawes—simply put, he had his best game in a Sixers uniform. He
racked up ten points (also on 5-9 shooting—what is it with these guys?),
and augmented it with 14 rebounds (one away from his Sixers high) and
nine assists (easily his Sixers high)—falling just one assist short of
one of the Sixers’ all-time least likely triple-doubles. He was
connecting from outside, he was crashing the boards, and he was hitting
cutters and initiating the offense from the high post. (Eddie Jordan
would be so proud.) Whether Spence’s heightened play is a sign of things
to come or a one-game fluke will be a subplot worth monitoring, but
suffice to say, a couple more games like this and we may have to
consider opening our hearts and checkbooks to the seven-foot Republican.

Ultimately, it was not the Sixers’ strongest effort. Their defense was
sloppy (especially switching on pick-and-rolls), the ball movement
stilted (Hawes aside, somehow), and the turnovers were just way too
plentiful. But despite feeling that the Blazers were constantly
outplaying them, the Sixers hung tough throughout the game—an
unsatisfying moral victory, perhaps, but starting the season against a
good team on the other side of the country, it’ll just have to do. You
certainly can’t feel too bad about this team after such an unlikely,
character-showing almost-comeback.

Next up for the Ballers: Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
Of the five teams the Sixers are facing on this road trip, the Blazers
are by far the most likely playoff team, with the Suns, Jazz, Warriors
and Hornets all being presumably beatable teams. Nabbing two, three wins
against these likely lottery-bound squads would be a great way for the
Sixers to show right off the bat that this is a different squad than the
one that started last year 3-13. Otherwise, we might not have enough
games late in the season to make up for the slow start this time around.