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Fan reaction: Lowry’s effort not quite enough against the hometown 76ers
When Houston Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry(notes) was growing up in Philadelphia he probably dreamed of filling up the stat sheet wearing a Philadelphia 76ers jersey. In the first half of Wednesday's match-up at the Toyota Center he filled up the stat sheet, but those numbers betrayed his hometown. Lowry went 7-7 from the floor including 5-5 from beyond the arc to drop 19 in the first two frames. He didn't miss a shot until 1:42 in the fourth quarter and finished with a career-high 36 points. In the end, it wasn't enough, as another solid team effort by the 76ers and a great offensive performance by opposing point guard Jrue Holiday(notes) resulted in a big, 114-105, victory on Feb. 16 heading into the All-Star break.
The Sixers came out as sluggish as they played Tuesday night against Memphis and fell behind by 12 quickly, but the bench, paced by Thaddeus Young(notes), Marreese Speights(notes) and Evan Turner(notes), brought them back to go into the half with a 55-52 lead.
Offensively, both point guards were superb. Lowry's exploits were special; although as hot as he was I was surprised they didn't call his number more early in the second half. Most of his second half points came down the stretch in desperation after the Sixers pulled away. If I'm that hot before halftime, you'd better get me the ball in the second half, and considering he runs the point, there's no excuse for him not at least testing the waters more in the third quarter.
Jrue Holiday dropped 20 points on 8-11 shooting, but perhaps his eight assists were more vital. Twice on the break he unfurled Bob Cousy-esque 30-foot chest pass darts to guys cutting to the rim for easy jams. Holiday will be the only Sixer participating in All-Star weekend, lacing the sneaks up for the sophs in the Rookie vs. Sophomore game.
Perhaps the most intriguing match-up of this game didn't happen with the silky smooth point guards, but with the leathered and grizzled centers. There weren't any ladies tuning in to watch Luis Scola(notes) and Spencer Hawes(notes) battle, but with timely jump shooting and some cleanup work on the boards these two combined to put up 43 points and 23 rebounds. Scola is a close to 20 PPG guy, but Hawes' contributions were vital to keeping the Sixers in this one. I'm usually a proponent of bashing big Spence, but tonight he took advantage of almost all his scoring chances and hustled the way you expect from this Sixers team. He by no means looked pretty doing it, but nonetheless, Hawes contributed to a big road win for Philly. He left the game in the third with a tweaked ankle, but should be OK when the Sixers return from the break next Wednesday at home against the Washington Wizards.
It's important to mention to Sixers fans that Andre Iguodala(notes) quietly posted a triple double Wednesday night. If you were watching this game you may have found yourself begging for him not to shoot because he was colder than cold fusion. But again, his defense, especially down the stretch, was exemplary. He also hit all his foul shots to ice it, ending up with 13 points, 12 boards, 10 assists (a common occurrence for A.I. these days) and a team-leading four steals. He seems to find ways to chip in just when you want to jump back on the "Trade Andre" bandwagon.
The Sixers finished the quasi-first half with a 27-29 record and have a string of winnable games coming against Washington, Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota. Twenty-seven equals their win total of last year before the All-Star break. That being said, Doug Collins will not allow these guys to get ahead of themselves. I have the luxury of being able to do that. It won't be long before the wins outnumber the losses, and absolutely no one saw that coming two months ago.
Pete Lieber has been a Philadelphia sports fan for 36 years. He's enjoyed the successes of the Phillies, Flyers and Eagles over the last five years, and he wonders when the excuses will end for our basketball team. Philly was once an NBA town, he'd like to see it be one again.
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