Friday, December 17, 2010

Lakers use strong 4th quarter to dispose of Sixers

Philadelphia (The Phanatic Magazine) - This Sixers team has been the polar opposite of last year's bunch. The 2009-10 team started out OK and regressed on a daily basis. This club got out of the blocks worse than just about anyone expected but has gotten better and better.

The difference is on the bench. The Sixers tuned out Eddie Jordan last year and the locker room was lost by Christmas. As the holiday approaches again this year, the players have bought into Doug Collins' approach and rebounded from a 3-13 start, winning seven of their past eight home games coming into's tonight's contest, with the only loss coming in the final two seconds to the mighty Celtics.

Philadelphia got another chance to prove itself against one of the NBA's elite teams on Friday when the two-time defending champion Lakers came to town. They were able to hang in for three quarters but the Lakers looked like an Olympic sprinter in the fourth, using an impressive kick to rout the Sixers, 93-81, in front of a sellout 20,366 at Wells Fargo Center.

Lamar Odom had 13 of his season-high 28 points along with eight rebounds for LA, which outscored the Sixers 35-19 in the final frame. Paul Gasol added 19 points and 13 boards while Philly native Kobe Bryant had a rare off-night, scoring a season-low nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. It was just the 73rd time in 1,048 career NBA games that the former MVP has failed to score in double-digits and the first since Feb. 3, 2010 against Charlotte.

"We used our counters, used our spacing and made some shots," Bryant said of the fourth quarter run. "We are getting it going again."

Center Spencer Hawes continued to play well for the Sixers, scoring 18 points and snaring a season-high 13 rebounds. Andre Iguodala was the only other Philadelphia player who showed up at the offensive end, also netting 18 points while adding six boards and six assists.


"We struggled making shots all night. I think we let them get two three-point plays in a row [in the fourth quarter]," Hawes said. "That was big. Momentum like that is hard to break."

The Sixers starting backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks had a particularly rough night, combining to shoot 4-for-22.

Philadelphia foreshadowed its shooting woes early. The Sixers were tight and pressing, missing their first 11 shots before a Hawes tip-in with 6:35 left in the opening quarter.

Things settled down from there and the Sixers competed, actually leading by as many as six points in the third quarter but LA flipped the switch in the fourth led by Odom and the defensive-minded duo of Matt Barnes, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Steve Blake.

"We played a terrific defensive game against one of the best offensive teams in the league," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "They just cranked it up [in the fourth quarter] and we couldn't make a shot."

Philadelphia now hits the road for its annual season-long road trip while Disney on Ice takes over the Wells Fargo Center. This year's version will be eight games over the next 18 days and the team will rack up over 9,000 travel miles.

Six Shots:

*Eagles QB Michael Vick and WR DeSean Jackson, along with Phillies stars Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard were all at the game. Vick received a standing ovation when he walked to his seat in the third quarter. The Sixers were actually leading 62-58 going into the fourth quarter before Vick's appearance on the jumbotron set off the crowd.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought it had an adverse effect on the Sixers: "How can't you understand that something unusual is happening in the building. It kinda slowed them down."

*Holiday and Meeks combined to shoot 0-for-10 in the first half. Holiday didn't convert from the field until the third quarter and Meeks converted his only field goal with under three minutes to go.

*Interesting that Hawes was the player picked to wish the crowd a Merry Christmas before the game.

*Collins went to Nocioni, who was a DNP-CD, in the past three games early in the first quarter for energy and to combat the Lakers' impressive length.

*The two teams combined to miss the first 11 shots of the game before a Gasol reserve layup with 8:41 left in the opening quarter.
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