Game Notes: Warriors at Sixers
Sixers are bad, but the Warriors are worse, much worse.
Watching Allen Iverson’s welcome-back-to-Philly presser with Susan a few weeks ago, it hit me: I need to go see AI play as soon as possible. As he started tearing up whole talking, I started welling up, too. As he fielded questions, I fired up the Sixers website and found a game that fit my schedule. This was that game.
- Lost amid the clutter of the Sixers jam-packed whiteboard are the words “spacing is organization.” Pretty deep…I think.
- Word came down that Elton Brand won’t be starting tonight; Jrue Holiday will be starting in his stead. This is the third game he hasn’t started this year, but the other two times Brand was benched because of his hamstring not because of a personnel decision. In his presser, Eddie Jordan said the move was about matching the Warriors smaller lineup. Maybe that’s the real reason; maybe not.
- Iverson can be caught in the trainer’s room, big bags of ice on his knee, big earphones on his head, big smirk on his face.
- Still in the Sixers locker room, some mid-90s rap was playing. Injured forward Marreese Speights isn’t feeling it; he takes out a Young Money mix from his bag. And after finally figuring out—with the help of Willie Green—how to operate the boombox, Lil Wayne and Co. can be heard getting their Flinstone on.
- Enjoying the song, Jason Kapono, along with Jrue Holiday (two UCLAers), decide that they should record a song and make a video for it. They say something about wanting to post it online. Not that they were serious, but I advise them against it.
- Elton Brand walks by—he is one of the widest players in the NBA, and I don’t mean fat. Five seconds later he doubles back. He must’ve remembered me from this summer. After dapping up and showing love, Brand promises to catch up with me postgame.
- Stepping out of the locker room and into my seat, I focus for a few minutes on Golden State warming up. My first observation: Corey Maggette feeds Anthony Randolph with oops from different angles and sides. Randolph, showing off his snake-like ability to lengthen his already long limbs, grabs almost all of them, rocking the rim for a solid two minutes straight.
- A few minutes later, Maggette and the Warriors show that they’re creative on and off the court. For each and every starter, it appears, Corey has a unique handshake. The one that he has for Monta Ellis is about two-minutes long. The end of a 5-game road trip for them, I’m happy to see the Warriors have some energy left.
- Taking my eyes off the court and looking around the arena, subtracting players’ friends and family, there aren’t enough people here to fill a high school gym.
- Starting lineups are announced; Allen Iverson is the second Sixer to be introduced. His first few games he was the fourth. Obviously Andre Iguodala is called last, but this is a weird move. I don’t get it.
- Thad Young, Iguodala, Sammy Dalembert, Allen Iverson and Holiday start for the Sixers. Vlad Radmanovic, Anothony Morrow, Mikki Moore, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis are GState’s five.
- Iguodala misses the first shot of the game and grabs his side. After the quarter, a release was passed around saying that he had bruised his ribs on that play. He would go on to play 34 minutes. He would also go on to miss 15 more shots, finishing the night four for 20.
- Holiday comes out firing, taking the Sixers next two shots, hitting one of them.
- For the Warriors, it’s Mikki Moore early. Taking two of their first three shots, he buckets two of them.
- Allen Iverson hits “Slammin’” Sammy Dalembert with an Oop. The two must have great chemistry; that’s at least the fifth or sixth time the two have hooked up on one of those in their four games together this season.
- After one it’s 36-24, Philly. Iverson has 9 and 3 assists, Young has nine, Brand has 7 off the bench and the Warriors seem to be missing that energy that I thought I saw pregame.
- Elton Brand looks solid. He may not move that well, but he is a house around the basket, and can still bang in that 15-footer. He can definitely still play at a high level, just maybe not in Philly’s system.
- In the Detroit game last week, I noticed that AI was wrapping his knee up in ice every time he was on the pine. The same goes for tonight. He’s feeling those minutes…
- Thad Young has 15 points in 14 minutes of action.
- Anthony Randolph, he of the longest limbs I’ve seen in a minute, just swatted a shot like he few could. He has so much potential, it’s unreal.
- Young now has 23 in 21 minutes. Thirty-one points, his career high, is well within reach.
- Iguodala finally hits his first shot…on his 10th attempt.
- Not that I was really worried, but it just became clear to me that AI has been accepted by his teammates as a leader. At a stoppage in play, Iverson waves over the four other guys on the court and they all run over quick and huddle up.
- In that same line of thought: AI doesn’t seem upset that he’s not getting the ball too much (he’s playing off the ball, and goes plays at a time without touching it). He seems happy just to be playing meaningful minutes. Got to love that.
- The KissCam just zoomed in on Devean George and recent D-League callup Chris Hunter. Hunter, uncomfortable, pretends to stare at his shoelaces. Vlad Radmanovic must have learned to play up to the camera in L.A. because he quickly leans over and kisses George in the center of his bald head.
- The Sixers are up 91-60. Clearly the Warriors don’t have that energy. My bad.
- It’s 97-68 at the end of three.
- The crowd is louder than it’s been all night. The reason? If and when the Sixers reach 100 points, everyone receives a free Big Mac. Remember when Dallas ran the same promotion, except with Taco Bell?
- After a few fruitless possessions in a row—the players actually look nervous trying to score that big bucket—Willie Green hits an uncontested three. The Sixers have 102 points; Philly has free Big Macs.
- Thanks to the Warriors, the Sixers coast to an easy win, breaking a 12-game skid.
- Coach Jordan’s launches right into it in his presser. No mention of the win. No mention of ending the skid. Just talk of what he liked and didn’t. He discusses Brand’s benching—definitely a situation to keep your eye on— Iggy’s injury and at the urging of long-time Philadelphia Daily News writer Phil Jasner, Alka-Seltzer.
-The Sixers locker room is pretty upbeat. And why shouldn’t it be? Like AI said after the game, it wasn’t a monkey on their backs, it was a gorilla.
- Thad Young didn’t get a career high for points, finishing the game with 26, but he did set a career high for boards (14).
- Jrue Holiday, he of the career game (15, 7 and 6), can’t wait to get home. “I just want to go home. I’m tired. Get me home, man.”
- On his way out, Brand flags me down, daps me up again and asks me how I’m doing. We converse for a minute before parting ways. He may have been benched tonight. He may have been pissed off. But he still kept his cool, still showed me love. Props on that.
- From a foot away, AI does look slightly different than year’s prior. He has a little more gut (still barely any), and has some wrinkles popping up under his brow. On the court tonight, though, he looked good, going for 20 on 7-10 shooting. Icing up after the game, Iverson looks content. Finally.