If only tonight’s game was three quarters – then the Sixers would have pulled off the biggest upset of the year.
Realistically, the Sixers were taken to CGU — Closing a Game University — by the two time defending champions, Los Angeles Lakers, in front of a sold-out Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers held a four point lead going into final period but were simply out-classed by the Lakers in the end, as the Sixers fell 93-81.
The Lakers outscored the Sixers 35 to 19 in the 4th without a true contribution from the Professor of closing games, Kobe Bryant.
It was as if Bryant took this game as a mini-vacation.
Bryant, who was celebrated at his alma-mater, Lower Merion High School, last night only scored 9 points and was virtually a spectator.
He witnessed his pal Lamar Odom do in the upstart Sixers. Odom spelled doom for the Sixers underdog chances as dropped 28 points while grabbing 8 boards.
He “out big-manned” Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, or whoever had the duty of guarding him.
Big men were the theme of the night, and for the Sixers, they were the only reason the Sixers were in competition with the World Champs at all.
Both teams had futile efforts from their guards, but the Sixers’ guards were putrid as Jrue holiday and Jodie Meeks went for a combined 4-22 shooting from the field. Lou Williams didn’t help matters as he shot 3-10.
Perhaps, this would have been a night where Doug Collins should have allowed Evan Turner to get out of the corner and see what he could do. It could certainly be no worse than the three guards ahead of him. Guard play was just part of the losing puzzle. The team overall didn’t help themselves by throwing up 21 shots from beyond the ark.
They only made 3.
Meanwhile, they managed to get to the free throw line just 14 times, while the Lakers had 28 free throw attempts.
Spencer Hawes was large for the Sixers. He, at times looked dominate. He posted 18 points while grabbing 13 boards, both season highs. Hawes’ efforts should’ve come at no surprise, as he scored 30 against the Lakers as a member of the Kings last year at Staples’ Center. Andre Iguodala also dropped in 18, 5 of which helped the Sixers take the lead at the end of the third. But Hawes’ effort seemed more stellar, on a night where he seemed unstoppable.
The problem for the Sixers was their disastrous shooting to begin quarters. They began the game shooting 10-11 from the field. They began the second quarter shooting 1-11. To seal their ill-fated plight, the Sixers began the fourth by missing their first six shots.
In sum, that’s a recipe for disaster, even on a night when the Lakers, including the best player in the world, played uninspired basketball.
Yet, this is why the Lakers are 20-7 and are the road to a three-peat, and the Sixers are 10-16, fighting just to smell the playoffs.
This young Sixers’ team needs to graduate from GCU (Closing a Game University) in order to begin to understand how to become a winner – eg. – the LA Lakers.