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76ers vs. Suns: Gnashing of Teeth in the Valley of Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 26:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during the season openning NBA game against the New Orleans Hornets at US Airways Center on December 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Hornets defeated the Suns 85-84. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Lake CruiseAnalyst IDecember 30, 2011

Did Steve Nash and his Phoenix Suns get hot, or did the Philadelphia 76ers soar in Philadelphia’s second game on Wednesday?  

Since both teams had barely lost their first game, there would again be weeping, wailing and Steve Nashing of teeth. Whether Nash could work through the teeth of Philly’s tough defense was a key to the game.

But Nash missed a layup off the opening tip. It was Jodie Meeks who scored the first bucket—his first three-pointer of the season.

On Phoenix’s next possession, Nash turned the ball over on an Iguodala steal. This would become a theme later in the game.

With a balanced attack and seven points from Iguodala, the 76ers led by seven points, 25-18, after the first quarter.

To end the quarter, Nikola Vucevic flipped in a sweet left-handed floater. “Sweet Lou” Williams had just laced him with a lovely assist. A rookie, Vucevic had scored his second bucket to close a quarter. He made a halftime buzzer-beating three-pointer in the second preseason game.

Hakeem Warrick was the lone bright spot for Phoenix.

Jrue Holiday stole some of Warrick’s shine, though, with a second-chance basket. Holiday had tracked down an offensive rebound and sank a jumper from 15—just over Warrick’s block attempt.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 21: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 121-76. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After that, Even Turner gave Philly an 11-point lead with a jumper that forced Alvin Gentry to call a timeout with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. The 31-20 lead was the 76ers’ largest of the game.

After the timeout, the Sixers owned the offensive glass. Holiday, Nikola Vucevic, Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand combined for 10 offensive rebounds to zero for the Suns in the second quarter.  But cold shooting kept the game closer than it should have been.

The big, bad 76ers led by 14 as the third quarter tipped off. And they kept it going after Spencer Hawes sank a floater. The balanced attack began scoring and carving out an upper double-digit lead.

Unfortunately, the Suns don’t have many go-to double-digit scorers this season, and it cost them very early in the second half. A jumbled Nash was gnashing his teeth after his turnovers—he had six in the game and only one assist.

Holiday, Meeks and Hawes, meanwhile, made the Suns pay.

Hawes threw down a dunk that sealed a 7-0 run. Again, Gentry called a timeout—this time with 10 minutes left in the third: 55-34.

Then, with his team loving a 21-point lead, the laces seemed to get larger to Holiday. He was 3-of-12 from the field, but he was rising up to shoot like he’d made 12 straight threes.

Jodie Meeks drained his second three-pointer of the season next. Meanwhile, Phoenix was going eight minutes without scoring.

On the other side, a 17-0 Philadelphia run flew in the face of Phoenix’s defense. By midway through the third quarter, the Suns were letting the sun go down on them.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Evan Turner #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots a jumper against the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on January 3, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Shannon Brown scored the first points of the second half for Phoenix with about 5:31 left in the third quarter. Hawes came back, however, with a dunk—and one.

Facing a 70-38 deficit, the Suns started to rise. Alas, Hawes hawked down yet another Philadelphia offensive board—his 11th rebound. Then, finishing the second-opportunity possession—Philly’s 11th of the quarter—Holiday made it back-to-back and ones.

Speaking of back-to-back, the 76ers swept the Suns last year. And Philadelphia averaged 114 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. Wednesday night’s game was a run back. The Suns went back down.

So “Sweet Lou” backed up his reputation for heating up quickly off the bench by smashing a 26-foot jumper near the end of the third. He barely missed another one at the buzzer. The 76ers outscored the Suns 33-20 in the third to take an 80-54 lead.

Now, with the score 94-64 with about six minutes remaining, you get the idea of how the rest of the game went. In the battle of the winless, the 76ers soared over the valley of Steve Nash and his Phoenix Suns, finishing them with a 103-83 margin.

Note: Due to the shortened schedule, the Sixers will go for four in a row against Phoenix next season.

Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net

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