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December 10 Camden Courier-Post columnist Kevin Callahan:
“There was a little excitement, a tangible bounce in the building Thursday night.
And, that was before the game.
Then, when Andre Iguodala hit a running shot with six seconds left to give the Sixers a one-point lead over the Eastern Conference leading Celtics, the Wells Fargo Center shook enough to knock down the Spectrum next door.
Now, the juice flowing in the building wasn’t like the electricity of Wilt vs. Russell at the old smoke-filled Convention Hall, or Dr. J vs. Bird at the soon-to-be-gone Spectrum, but a big-time buzz was definitely back at a Sixers‘ game.
This feel of pro basketball being meaningful again in Philadelphia couldn’t be erased, even when Kevin Garnett dropped in an ally-oop with one second left to deal the Sixers a disheartening 102-101 loss.
“We’ve come a long way to go toe-to-toe with the Celtics,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said.
Indeed, basketball was back in South Philly.
The excitement was good to see, good to feel.
Of course, the nights of the great Sixers-Celtics rivalry, when Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell staged epic big-men duels in the 1960s, or when Julius Erving and Larry Bird treated the fans to elegant battles in the 1980s, are as far away as Allen Iverson is playing in Turkey.
But, that’s OK.
There is reason to watch the Sixers play again.
December 10 Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Smallwood:
“FRANKLY, I WASN’T looking for a moral victory last night from the Sixers.
This wasn’t strictly a pass/fail exam, but the Sixers showed on Opening Night against the Miami Heat that they could compete with the top teams.
Despite having won just seven times in their first 21 games, the Sixers had been hammered only twice – at San Antonio and at Toronto.
The Sixers had won four of their last five games and had a five-game winning streak at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Boston Celtics had the second-best record in the league and were riding an eight-game winning streak.
But they had played Wednesday and were without starting center Shaquille O’Neal.
If the Sixers really wanted to show that their current upswing was a sign that they were turning a corner, this was the type of game they needed to win – not just play well in.
They played well.
This became a bit more dramatic when Kevin Garnett hit a layup with 1.4 seconds to go to give the Celtics a 102-101 victory. But a lot of this contained the same elements we’ve seen from the Sixers all season.
The Sixers get control of a game.
The Sixers lose control of a game.
The Sixers fight hard to get back into a game.
The Sixers don’t make enough plays at the end to win a game.
December 10 Philadelphia Daily News:
“WHEN HE was growing up, shooting jump shot after jump shot by himself, 76ers guard Jodie Meeks tried to emulate the play of a pure shooter who was adept at coming off screens, getting his feet set and draining long jumpers.
Last night at the Wells Fargo Center, Meeks started opposite that player. Boston Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen has been drilling jumpers for 14-plus years in the best league in the world, and Meeks still watches, still takes mental notes.
“When I was in grammar school and in middle school, I tried to play my game after him,” said Meeks, who made his fourth straight start last night. “I watched him growing up, always moving constantly, coming off screens and pulling the trigger. I kind of [patterned] my game after him.”
There are few better for an up-and-coming shooting guard to study. Allen, now 35, has averaged 20.4 points in his career and drained 45 percent of his career three-pointers. He is still one of the deadliest long-range bombers in the NBA, averaging 16.6 this season while shooting fewer than 13 times a game.
“The thing that Jodie can do is, he’s the only guy on our team who can come flying off screens and catch that ball and shoot,” Sixers coac Doug Collins said. “He’s our only legitimate ‘two’ guard, a guy who can run off screens and do those things.
“Ray Allen and my old broadcast partner, Reggie Miller, are two of the best who have ever done it. And what you learn to do is you learn to read screens. The next thing for Jodie is going to use his speed and then change speeds, get yourself on balance – what is the [defender] doing? Is he shooting the gap on you? Is he chasing you? Ray Allen’s seen it all, and so what he’ll do is, Ray always goes away from pressure. He doesn’t fight pressure, he goes away from pressure. And that’s what experience will do.”
Experience is something Meeks is soaking up now, which is invaluable to a second-year player who saw limited action last season, including with Milwaukee. In his three starts before last night, Meeks averaged 17 points on 53.1 percent shooting and 13 three-pointers.
December 10 Philadelphia Daily News:
“THE 15 LOSSES have mounted in a variety of ways, though rarely blowouts.
Last night’s might have been the most crushing. Yet most promising.
Kevin Garnett hit a layup with 1.4 seconds remaining on a nifty pass from Rajon Rondo to give the Celtics a 102-101 win over the Sixers, who had taken the lead with 6.6 seconds remaining on a tough runner by Andre Iguodala.
At halftime at the Wells Fargo Center, a tandem called Quick-Change entertained the crowd. Their gimmick is this: A man acts like a magician, waving a towel or curtain quickly over and around his female companion, as she changes outfits in the blink of an eye. Yellow dress goes to green gown, then to a red salsa dress.
Too many times this season, the Sixers have done a quick change late in ballgames. They’ll play well enough to win, maybe even forge a big lead, only to morph into a team that is unrecognizable, blowing the lead and, ultimately, the game.
Last night, though, was different. The game was close throughout. The Sixers belonged on the court with the Celtics for all 48 minutes. They didn’t lose this game; instead, the Celtics won it, grabbing their ninth straight win and halting the Sixers‘ home winning streak at five.
“What a heartbreaking loss,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said after his team fell to 7-15. “To play so hard and so well. That Celtics team is so good, so well-coached, and they have so many different ways that they can attack you on the offensive end. It was just a shame. It would have been an incredible win for us here. We had a great crowd tonight, and we had some good plays. I just feel so badly for our guys.”
On the winning play, Rondo got the inbounds pass and was pressured by Jrue Holiday. Rondo, who finished with 14 assists, calmly waited as Garnett set a pick on Holiday, then rolled to the basket. Holiday switched with Thaddeus Young, but instead of staying behind Garnett, got caught in front of him. Rondo lofted a perfect pass that Garnett caught and deposited in one motion.”
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