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The Post-Speights Era Begins in New Orleans

Jan 4, 2012, 7:38 PM EDT

After trading Marreese Speights, the Sixers look to move over .500 against the Hornets in New Orleans.

There may be some long faces on the Philadelphia 76ers’ sideline tonight
as a result of the team’s recent trade of backup power forward Marresse
Speights for a couple second-round picks—particularly Lou Williams,
Mo’s three-season partner in second-unit play and general internet
tomfoolery. Nonetheless, the team must soldier on without their 2008
first-rounder, and they begin the healing process with their fifth game
of the year tonight, in New Orleans against the 2-3 Hornets.

New
Orleans, in a rebuilding year after trading start point guard Chris
Paul in the off-season, got off to a dynamite start to ’11-’12, beating
the Suns on a late-game jumper by likely new face of the franchise Eric
Gordon in their opener, and then blowing out the visiting Celtics in
their second game. But it’s been tough sledding for the Hornets since,
with consecutive losses to lackluster conferences foes Phoenix,
Sacramento and Utah, all without Gordon, who was out with a sore knee.

Gordon should be back in the lineup tonight, in time to catch the Sixers
off their longest period of rest until the all-star break (three whole
days!), after handily dispatching the Warriors in Oaktown on New Year’s
Eve. The Sixers were lights out in that contest, shooting a stunning
11-20 from three, including a combined 7-9 from Lou Williams and sudden
deep threat Andre Iguodala, who has hit multiple threes in every game
thusfar. Philly now has a chance to finish their opening road trip with a
winning record, and to move above .500 for the first time this season,
as they close out their Western Conference swing in the Big Easy.

To do it, they’ll need to get more out of their two-guard position.
Starting SG Jodie Meeks has been abysmal to start the season, shooting
36% from the field and 23% from deep, and while you’d think that would
re-ignite the starter controversy between Jodie and Evan Turner, the
Extraterrestrial hasn’t been that much better, shooting 39% and
averaging four fouls in barely 25 minutes of PT a game. With Spencer
Hawes looking more and more legit as our team’s starting pivot—his 12
boards last night gave him double-digits for four consecutive games for
the first time in his career, and he’s averaging a double-double for the
season while shooting 68% from the field—we just need some solid two-guard play to be firing on all cylinders.

8:00 tip from New Orleans Arena. By the way, the Hornets were the third
team involved in that three-teamer shipping Mo Speights to the
Grizzlies, getting 2010 lottery swingman Xavier Henry from the Grizzlies
in exchange for sending the Sixers a second second-round pick. Works
for us.