Game Notes: Pistons at Sixers
The Full JAM Magazine Recap
– I arrive at the Wachovia Center and a Sixers team employee asks for my name so he can write it on a credential. I repeat my name and media outlet twice. This results in “Jake Applemen” (plural) and “Jam Magazine” on the credential. I have him correct the misspelling of my last name, but don’t think to check to see if he got “SLAM” wrong until it’s too late.
– I immediately link up with a good friend from college, E. James Beale, who writes for Philly’s City Paper.
– Back in our old liberal arts days, Beale, along with some other good friends, provided invaluable support helping me find transportation to cover games in Cleveland, which was a good two hours away. Anyway, Beale passed on some good observations and his italicized notes will run interspersed with mine.
– The Sixers open up their locker room and the beat guys start joking about when AI will show up. To their surprise he walks right in, already in game shorts and a white wife beater, singing “Blame It on the Boogie” loudly. Well then.
– AI changes his wife beater (white to black) and replaces one pair of brand new white and blue Answers for a red pair. “They were making my toes bleed,” he explains nonchalantly.
– It appears that one of the benefits of buying a floor level seat to help the struggling attendance is that you can eat something that comes with “cumin dusted tortilla chips.”
– All wishes for a Tayshaun Prince/Austin Daye reach-athon go unfulfilled.
– The crowd explodes briefly for AI, but remains lukewarm for everybody else during intros.
– Iverson rejects Chucky Atkins on the first possession of the game, leading to a 24-second violation. The sparse crowd goes wild.
– Elton Brand drills a baseline fadeaway over Ben Wallace. Two defensive possessions later, Iverson rips the ball away from Wallace and Brand drills a pull-up on the break. The word you’re looking for is vintage.
– After another minute and change elapse, Iverson sprints into the passing lane, inciting a sequence that leads to another fastbreak and an AI charging violation. The crowd is pissed, as their hero has not gotten the call. For what it’s worth (nothing new), AI is treating defense like a weekend in Atlantic City–lots of gambling, lots of hyper-activity and perhaps some South Jersey accents trickling into the background.
– It takes the injury-ravaged Pistons–no Ben Gordon, no Tayshaun Prince and no Rip Hamilton–three and a half minutes, but they do score.
– When a single person yells in the Wachovia Center, the noise travels forward, completely uninterrupted. Beale reveals that this yeller is actually a Sixers employee.
– Sammy Dalembert follows AI’s “try to get an offensive foul called on the guy I’m guarding” lead, falling awkwardly as Jason Maxiell drains a short jump shot.
– Will Bynum drills a jumper. Fan: “I’m going to get on that midget!”
– The facemask-wearing Charlie Villanueva is one strange accessory or affliction away from becoming a cult Superhero.
– Eddie Jordan leaves AI in with two fouls.
– The 76ers are still selling seats from the old Spectrum. We’re told “proceeds benefit the Comcast Spectacor Foundation.” A quick Google search reveals that foundation to be the Sixers themselves. “Proceeds go directly to us” must have been copyrighted.
– Elton Brand grabs an offensive rebound with 14 ticks left on the first quarter clock. Both AI and Wilie Green run to the ball. AI gets it and bricks a jumper. The beef you’re looking for here is chuck.
– Iverson blows a bunny. Hip Hop, the Sixers’ rabbit mascot, would be upset but he’s too busy looking like a fluffy crack addict.
– Jason Smith has a good two way sequence: denying Charlie V baseline (leads to an airball) and drilling a long jumper.
– Five Pistons have between 4 and 7 points. Hard to highlight any of them. Bynum and Jason Maxiell have had good spurts; Kwame is still a Jekyll and Hyde experience; and Villaneuva has gotten some buckets, though probably not enough. Unfortunately, my idea for running straight Jonas Jerebko notes hasn’t quite panned out.
– So it turns out the Holy War (Nova vs. St. Joes, for the uniformed) is a 9:00 tip at the Palestra, not 7 like I had thought. I immediately try to figure out the logistics of escaping the 33-34 barnburner playing in front of me. Gotta see good point guard play somewhere …
– If the Pistons were a defensive shell drill, they’d be looking pretty good right now. 30-30, 4:30 left.
– There have been a startling number of leakouts so far tonight. A Stuckey coast-to-coast layup reinforces the universal truth that if the other team is trying to push the tempo and catch you napping, you can come back and burn them, too.
– Charlie Villanueva grabs both of Brand’s arms and pulls him down ferociously, sending the one-time All Star into the stanchion. “That’s not a foul” CV barks at Marat Kogut, the game’s third ref. Thousands of playground enforcers nod approvingly.
– The Sixers’ man defense hasn’t been great so far, but they’ve protected the basket well…and just as I write that Kwame Brown flashes backdoor for an uncontested two-handed flush. Speaking of Kwame, he somehow manages to get shoved out near halfcourt during a Brand/Iverson pick-and-roll. Not sure how you do that when you’re a foot taller than the guy you’re trying to show on; momentum I guess, something Kwame has never had on his side.
– “Jonas Jerebko with the sweeping hook” enters an elite cluster of random game-tracking sentences I’m happy I’ve written. “Jonas Jerebko with the poor bounce pass leading to a turnover” does not.
– Iverson is creating for others (oop to Dalembert, long lead feed to Iguodala for a dunk). Thad Young ruins Iverson’s potential early quarter assist trifecta with a bricked corner three.
– No one throws a driving alley to Samuel Dalembert like Allen Iverson. No one. The oop makes Dalembert 5 for 5 for the night. If he keeps that up he might even be tradeable. Let’s go Sammy!
– Jason Maxiell is unstoppable from six feet out. Some more turnovers and the “Jonas Jerebko Moving Without The Ball Freedom Festival” push the lead to 60-52. And let’s be honest, you can’t hate on Jonas Jerebko, he’s the Nordic talisman.
– Iverson’s two field goals have come on trademark pull-up jumpers; you know, the ones with the slight arching of his back that generates a fading motion simultaneously unnecessary and beautiful.
– Sammy Dalembert is earning his “Slammin Sammy” nickname, and I’m a good judge of this as I write for Jam Magazine.
– Thad Young keeps the Sixers close with two clutch baskets: a corner three over an outstreched Jerebko arm with the shot clock winding down and a putback just before the horn. 67-63, Pistons.
– Slammin Sammy gives the Sixers their first lead in a while with a putback dunk, only for Rodney Stuckey to sink a pretty curling floater down the other end. The best way I can describe this game is “an HGTV home makeover show featuring two houses that both need a lot of work, but aren’t completely lost causes.” First team to build around a new Wall wins!
– Elton Brand, who’s combined decent play with good fortune to quietly cobble together a nice performance, puts the Sixers up four with a jumper.
– Jerebko’s Swede shooting stroke is keeping it a one posession game. A Chucky Atkins–we’re talking about ATKINS!–midrange jumper gives the Pistons the lead again.
– Jerebko with a jumper and a serious fist pump. You gotta love foreigners with fist pumps: lets hope this goon becomes a star.
– Back and forth, trading baskets. Different guys take turns riding mediocrity’s seesaw. Except of course for Jonas Jerebko, THE NORDIC TALISMAN, whose jumper magically shines through. 84-82, Pistons. 17 and 10 for JJ.
– An Iverson pull-up ties it at 86, drawing a raucous reaction from the (less than) 12,136 in attendance. After a Jason Maxiell brick, Iggy and Dalembert commit an egregious “same team” faux pas trying to grab Iggy’s missed shot in the paint. Pistons ball.
– Iggy does everything he can to stop Rodney Stuckey’s foray, but the strip ends up back in Stuckey’s hands, and he hits a short jumper to give the Pistons a two-point lead with 8.7 seconds left.
– Iggy misses a wide open three, Stuckey culminates a 27-8-5 night and a great second half by wetting a pair of freebies. The Sixers’ losing streak hits 11.
–Check for the 83rd issue of JAM Magazine on newsstands nowhere. The cover is Jonas Jerekbo thrusting a trident high in the air in front of a bikini-clad, golf-club wielding Elin Nordegren.
JAM Magazine: “He’s on fire!”