The need for a shot-blocking big man is growing by the day. Despite a breakout game from Marreese Speights on the offensive end, the Pacers were able to get anywhere they wanted inside, which opened up outside shots and enabled them to beat the Sixers 111-103. This loss comes off an embarrassing defeat in Detroit to the 11-24 Pistons on Saturday night, dropping Doug Collins out of the 8th spot in the East behind Milwaukee and Charlotte.
The offense wasn't a problem. Jrue Holiday was extremely effective, often looking like the best player on the court while playing under control and dictating the offense. He scored 19 points and added 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Unfortunately his counterpart and UCLA teammate Darren Collison matched him, notching 21 points and 13 assists, a season high. Both point guards went back and forth a number of times, but it was a Holiday foul late in the game that gave Collison the edge. The Sixers were already in the penalty and needed a stop, but Jrue though Collins wanted him to foul and committed a silly penalty. When Darren hit both free throws, the game was basically over. Jrue continues to shoot well from the outside, going 3-5 from deep on the night.
In Andre Iguodala's first game back, Evan Turner was still a big factor, playing his second straight good game in 26 minutes tonight. While Iguodala was a non-factor offensively (1 point on 7 shots), Turner scored 14 points on 10 shots, most of which came at or near the rim. His jump shot was looking better tonight, but it's getting to the basket that he's best at, and the more he does that, the more success he'll have at this level. Iguodala did add 7 assists but there's no reason he should have played 33 minutes in his first game back, nor should he have been taking the shots with the game on the line. His defense on Danny Granger was great at times, but lacking at others -- Granger finished with 27 points on 17 shots and a number of wide open three's because of poor rotations. Andre needs to be traded to benefit both himself and the team.
Thaddeus Young and Jodie Meeks played well offensively, but both failed at times to guard Mike Dunleavy, who torched the Sixers in the first half and ended with 20 points on the night. Thad had his lefty runner working and Jodie was 3-5 from beyond. It's tough to play Jodie against a team like Indiana though, because of how big their wing players are. Often times Jodie was overmatched.
Marreese Speights continued to play well, especially on the glass, where he may have passed Spencer Hawes in Doug Collins' rotations. Speights had 14 and 9 on just 8 shots. He battled with Jeff Foster and Roy Hibbert all night. His defense still leaves much to be desired, but at this point that's what he is. The 12 offensive rebounds for the Pacers is pretty inexcusable -- a defensive big man would do well to help this team in the second half of the season.
The Sixers have three days to go over their mistakes as their next game is Friday at home against Milwaukee. They are now 15-23 on the season.