There was a little intrigue surrounding this battle of Eastern and Western Conference cellar dwellers. Would this be the game that the desperate Sixers broke their 12 game losing streak? Would the short-handed and undersized Warriors have anything left in the tank for the fifth game of a long East-coast road trip? And perhaps most intriguing, who would win the battle of lightning-bug scoring machines, the reigning title holder in that category, Allen Iverson, or the man many have called Iverson's successor, Monta Ellis?
Unfortunately, we got early and decisive answers to all of our questions, and they all came down in favor of The Answer, Allen Iverson, and his Philadelphia 76ers.
|FINAL - 12.14.2009||1||2||3||4||TOTAL|
|Golden State Warriors||24||33||11||33||101|
The Sixers deserve a lot of credit for this win. Their coach, Eddie Jordan, made a bold move by starting a quicker and smaller unit than usual. He took Elton Brand out of the starting lineup, and put Thaddeus Young, normally a small forward, at power forward. T-Young was the Warriors killer in this game. His quickness and athleticism ate up Vlad Rad, and made Mikki Moore look like the old man in the rec league. He finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds, most coming in the first half. Taking Brand's place in the starting lineup was rookie point guard and defensive specialist Jrue Holiday. Holiday did a nice job hawking Monta, and his length appeared to bother Monta's jumper. And yes, The Answer delivered: Iverson got an efficient 20 points on 10 shots. Have you ever seen Allen Iverson play within a team concept, and take only what the defense was giving him? It happened in this game, and may be the way of the future for the noticeably slower 34 year old legend.
But mostly, this game was about what the Warriors couldn't do. Perhaps exhausted in the last game of their long road trip, they simply didn't show up to compete. Monta Ellis couldn't get anything going, shooting 3-15 from the field, many of his misses coming on open layups. But even if Monta had played well, it wouldn't have mattered in a game in which the Warriors simply surrendered the paint to the Sixers.
Here's a couple of stats that tell the real story of this game: The Warriors total number of rebounds, 26, was only one more than the number of offensive rebounds they gave up, 25. If you had tried to count the number of Sixers layups and dunks that resulted, you would have run out of fingers and toes. Overall, the Sixers outrebounded the Warriors 59-26. Now that's a bloody massacre.
Obviously, this was a game in which the Warriors greatly missed their injured big men, Andris Biedrins and Rony Turiaf. But even more obviously, they missed the comfort of their beds at home. As Coach Keith Smart memorably put it in his post-game interview, the road-weary Warriors played "like a horse trying to get back to the barn."
Sticking with Smart's barnyard theme, I'm going to initiate a new feature, that hopefully doesn't get too much use going forward. This is where I try to find some nice things about the Warriors' performance in a blowout loss. I'm calling it:
Lipstick on a Pig
I liked the play of two Warriors in this game:
Anthony Randolph: The Warriors' version of Where's Waldo? showed up for this game, on a night when no one else did. Go figure. Here are the highlights:
- Have you been looking for a clue as to why Randolph's playing time has been so sporadic in the last few games? You may need to look no further than this: Randolph virtually never took a jumpshot in this game. He took the lumbering Dalembert to the rack again and again, finishing beautifully, and drawing fouls. Randolph took 11 free throws in this game.
- After a slow start in which he again got burned by leaving his feet for pump-fakes, Randolph settled down and gave a solid defensive effort. I think he got more than the 2 blocks he was credited in the box score.
- He played under control at all times, even when leading the fast break. Only 1 turnover.
- Keith Smart praised Randolph after the game, and at the same time dropped a few more tea leaves to read for puzzled Randolph watchers. Smart said that Randolph was "decisive," and "tried to compete at a high level." And "even with everything going on with him, he was ready to go." A reference to the family emergency that took Randolph away from the team a few games ago?
Devean George: When George came in for Monta Ellis at 5:25 in the third, we knew the plug had been pulled. But surprisingly, George looked pretty darn good in his first extended action this season. He drained three threes, and really competed on the defensive end, helping turn a sickening 30 point blowout into a "respectable" 16 point blowout. Keith Smart praised his professionalism after the game, and said he hoped it would serve as a lesson for his young players.
It will be interesting to see if the Warriors intend to give George real minutes on the front line going forward. From the looks of this road trip, they may need him.
This is a tough choice. This would be the first Warrior Wonder of Devean George's career! And will I ever get another chance to give it to him? I gotta go with the young fella though: Mr. Anthony Randolph. He needs our support.