Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sixers-Bulls Game Two: The Sixers Won More Than The Bulls Lost

After tonight's shocking win in Chicago, the Sixers evened their best of seven series, with reigning MVP Derrick Rose hobbling away from press box camera range with five minutes left in what would wind up as a 109-91 win for the road team. The story, of course, especially among those that didn't bother to actually watch the game, is that the #1 seed is emotionally crushed from losing Rose, and that this was all about what the Bulls were missing, rather than what the Sixers did. And that's wrong on many levels, because my laundry played their best quarter of their season tonight, and Chicago wasn't winning this game, even if they had Rose.

Here's what the Sixers did in the third quarter tonight: 38-14. No turnovers. Shot nearly 60% from the floor, and held Chicago to under 25%. And minute after minute, possession after possession, they just executed basketball plays, got to loose balls, moved the ball on offense without regard to who was hot or who is supposed to score. Jrue Holiday was a beast tonight, with high efficiency scoring until late; 11 of 15, with 6 assists to boot. Evan Turner gave Doug Collins exactly what he needed, posting a 19-7-6 line as the starting point. Lou Williams had 20 on 13 shots, in 28 minutes, off the bench. They out-rebounded, out-stole, out-blocked and out-worked the favorites.

And, in other words, played like they played for much of the first 30 games of the season, when they sucked me into thinking that the post-lockout NBA was a league where you could win in a new way.

Sure, maybe they never get their collective heads out of their nether regions without Rose getting struck down. Bulls Fan seems checked out, sitting shiva for Rose, and their were empty seats in the arena tonight and ticket prices that were nearly as depressed as the fan base. Maybe Rose going down was the magic moment that got the Sixers to buy into Collins' moving Turner and Spencer Hawes into the starting lineup as the right adjustment, rather than just desperate button-pushing. And I'm not silly enough to think that this means my laundry is going to go on to win the series, because Chicago still has the best talent and coaching, and just because the Sixers finally played a great quarter, it doesn't mean they will again.

But it is, suddenly, inexplicably, a series, with the 8 seed having home court advantage, and not an inconsequential amount of hope. For a team that seemed to be here as simply not having a better idea, they really can't ask for more.

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