Thursday, March 10, 2011

This Durant Fellow Is Unfair

All year, the Sixers have had one constant: Andre Iguodala will make the other team's best scorer, assuming that man is a shooting guard or small forward, regret playing in the game.

He's destroyed Danny Granger. He kept Kobe Bryant to single figures. He's done bad, bad things to Paul Pierce and Stephen Curry and Vince Carter and so on, and so on. He's the single biggest reason why the team is over .500 after being 10 games under, and a tantalizing dark horse in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.

Tonight in Philadelphia was one of those measurement games where they really weren't supposed to win. The visiting Thunder are really good and didn't play last night; the Sixers were in Indianapolis, rolling the Pacers. Lou Williams, an essential offensive cog on their explosive bench, has been off for several games. Point guard Jrue Holiday, up and down on defense this year, was going to have to face Russell Westbrook on no rest. Very hard assignment, really.

And with 35 seconds left, the Sixers were up by five, in front of a full house (and yes, that's probably the first time that's happened since the Second Iverson Mirage games), with Williams doing the honors on the go-ahead three. But, well, the Thunder have the best offensive player on the planet. And then he did this.

You don't really need to know what happens next, right? Sure. A marginal call at the buzzer to stop a possible game winner, then Durant owning the overtime en route to his 34 and 16. The home team has one more of those close but not quite games, with the opportunity to make a statement... goes away.

And yes, this is not a new story. The Association is about stars, not balanced teams. Holiday can't give up 27 and 12 assists to his opposite number at point guard, even when he gets 22 of his own. Thaddeus Young can't have a 4-5 night in 29 minutes with 5 fouls, with Durant just making him look silly at times.

But to keep things real simple... the game's a lot easier when you have a 6'-10" scoring monster with a taste for the dramatic. And if you're kind of annoyed that the year the Sixers had the second overall pick, this guy wasn't available? I feel ya. Hard.

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