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Can’t Lose ‘Em All: Sixers Defend Home Court Against Brooklyn Nets, Play Surprisingly Good Ball

Mar 11, 2013, 9:56 PM EDT

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If it seems like I only write Sixers recaps after they win these
days…it’s because I only write Sixers recaps after they win these
days. There’s no point in recapping Sixers losses anymore because
they’re not really news, they’re just the regular course of
action—even losing to the Magic at this point can hardly be considered
an upset, or even “upsetting.” It’s only worth talking about it when the
team wins now. And for just the second time in the last 14 (!!) games,
the Sixers won tonight, beating the Brooklyn Nets 106-97.

The
really remarkable about this thing isn’t just that the Sixers won, or
that they beat a team the Sixers trail by 13.5 games in the standings.
It’s that they played really pretty darned well. They shot lights out
from beyond, hitting eight of their 15 threes. They moved the ball
brilliantly, dishing 31 assists with only six turnovers. They defended
with energy, getting burned by some superlative play by Deron Williams,
Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez—Spencer Hawes never had a shot against
Brook—but holding the rest of the Nets to a combined 15-38. They even
got to the free-throw line 27 times, their second highest tally in 2013.
They looked like a competent, professional basketball team—unlike, say,
the one that got outplayed by an 18-45 basketball team last night in
Orlando.

The entire starting lineup was key in this one—yes,
even you, Damien Wilkins, who scored an efficient 13 points on 5-8
shooting, including a couple key corner treys in the second half that
deflated the advancing Nets as they tried to cut into the Sixers’ lead.
Thaddeus Young played his third awesome game in a row, scoring 16 on 6-9
shooting with ten boards and some nice tic-tac-toe extra-passing to
Hawes in the paint. And Jrue Holiday finally snapped out of the funk
he’s been in the last four games, scoring 15 points on just eight shots
(with eight free-throw attempts!!) with 11 assists and just one
turnover. D-Will might’ve been slightly more dominant on the night
(27/13/6), but Jrue was right there with him tonight.

The game ball, however, goes to ol’ Spencer “Frustration” Hawes,
who had probably his best offensive night of the year, putting up a
season-high 24 points on awesome 10-15 shooting, to go with ten boards
and seven assists, the latter also a season-high. The defense wasn’t
necessarily there for Spence tonight, as he got burned badly and
repeatedly by Brook Lopez early on, but he was enormous on the offensive
glass tonight, getting a handful of big putbacks and a couple easy
buckets (including one breakaway dunk I was positive he was gonna
come up a couple inches short on) that helped put the Sixers out in
front on this one. Every once in a while, Spence has one of these
all-around games that make you understand why we were so excited to
spend $13 million on the guy, and though they’re still far too few and
far between to merit the contract, it’s nice to know he hasn’t lost the
capability completely.

Tanking is still probably the way to go
for these Sixers, and I’ll admit that while watching the Magic game on
Sunday—a game that would’ve been depressing even if the Sixers had
managed to win—I was basically hoping Orlando would pull out the W. But
to see the Sixers playing this well against a team as good as the
Nets—like the Warriors, not a great team, but undoubtedly a better one
than this Sixers squad—it’s hard not to root for them. I don’t want to
go the whole rest of the season without a reminder that there are in
fact guys on this team are capable of playing good ball. Besides, f—
the Nets.

Anyway, the team will almost undoubtedly resume their
plummeting ways during Wednesday’s game against the Heat—and then
Saturday’s game against the Pacers, and then, in all likelihood,
Mondays’ game against the Blazers. All fair game, but I’m not gonna feel
bad about feeling good about this win, a needed oasis in this desert of
tanking.