It was only a two game slump; but the Sixers came into Staples Center Wednesday night and played as if their season was on the line.
Their 104-94 victory over the Clippers wasn’t glorifying, but it was a win full of the hunger that they in nowise had this time last year.
Once again, the team concept was the Sixers’ recipe to victory as 5 players scored in double figures. Though, Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday were the centerpiece of victory full of passion and toughness.
Holiday and Brand both had quite the motivation in their trip back to Los Angeles.
Brand wanted to prove his old team that they made a mistake when they let him walk in the summer of 2008. So, it was no surprise that he dropped 19 points and grabbing 12 boards.
Though it’s doubtful that the Clippers would take Brand over their young superstar Blake Griffin.
Yet, on this night Brand was the better player, on both sides on the ball. Brand and his teammates stifled Griffin defensively, holding him to just 14 points on 3 of 12 shooting. At times Griffin was beyond frustrated as the Sixers physical defense altered his offensive game.
Meanwhile, Jrue Holiday wanted to sparkle in his hometown, and where he a star at UCLA.
He did just that despite having 3 first half fouls. Holiday proved to be huge by scoring 20 and giving 9 assists.
Holiday’s exploits helped the Sixers pull away in the second half.
Good thing he did, because the first half was bitter. It was half that saw the ejection of Coach Doug Collins. It was a first half that saw the Clippers shoot 8 straight free throws. It was a first half that nearly saw Blake Griffin implode.
By half’s end Sixers only led by 2.
The 3rd quarter began the Clippers’ demise as the Sixers outscored them 30 to 19 and they never looked back.
Andre Iguodala, who was a game decision, gutted it out, but didn’t shoot well; scoring only 9 points on 4 of 13 shooting.
Jodie Meeks and the rest of Iguodala’s teammates took care of business, though. Meeks himself dropped 22 points including 5 of 8 shooting from downtown.
It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was an important victory for a Sixers’ team (35-33) that has learned to win. It was a victory that puts the them in a virtual tie with the New York Knicks for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference ladder.
As the Sixers head down the home stretch, wins like this will grow character as the beasts of east will await the young group in the playoffs.