Against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at Wells Fargo, Iggy showed off his ball-hawking skills and led the Sixers to another resounding win. The victory pushed Philly to 11-4 (7-1 at home).
The 76ers entered the game 8-2 in their last 10. Along with Chicago and Utah, Philly was among the hottest teams in the NBA—despite having lost their first home game two nights ago against Andre Miller and the Denver Nuggets.
So, fighting not to lose two in a row at WFC, the Sixers found themselves down 35-24 early in the second quarter and shooting only 36 percent from the floor.
Atlanta shot 50 percent over the first two quarters and led by eight as the third quarter started. Meanwhile, Philly had made only 34 percent of their field goals.
Thus, the 76ers came out in the third quarter bent on cleaning up the offensive boards. Elton Brand and Nikola Vucevic, who was playing in place of Spencer Hawes again tonight, combined for three offensive rebounds early in the third.
The Sixers were shooting 2-for-8 in three-point shots at that point, and Jody Meeks owned both buckets. The 76ers hadn’t yet held a lead in the game.
But, Vucevic’s jump shot from the foul line extended pulled the Sixers to within three points, 51-48, with about 6:00 left in the third. He was shooting 55 percent from the field before the start of tonight’s action.
Then, a dunk by Iguodala off Philly’s defensive deflection made it a one point game at the 5:30 mark. On the next possession after a Josh Smith miss, Meeks swished another long three-pointer. This one came off one of Holiday's 11 assists.
The Sixers then led by one point—their first lead. Atlanta’s head coach, Larry Drew, took a timeout as the fans got into the game. Next, Meeks began to pluck the Hawks' feathers from three-point range.
Then the 76ers brought the fans out of their seats on a rare Holiday to Iguodala lob dunk.
The Sixers had suddenly reeled off 16 unanswered points. Further, the 76ers cranked up their defense. Another slam dunk by Iggy, this time off an 80-foot assist from Holiday, again brought the house down.
After that, Atlanta began to turn the ball over and miss shot after shot as the third quarter was coming to a close.
Then it happened. Andre picked off his 1,000th career steal and moved into fifth place on the Sixers' all-time list.
Only Allen Iverson, Maurice Cheeks, Julius Erving and Charles Barkley are ahead of him. Iggy averages two steals per game and is No. 6 in the NBA in the steals statistic.
Thanks to his efforts after three quarters, the Sixers led 64-57. Incredibly, they held the Hawks to 10 points in the ball-hawking period.
If not for Willie Green’s three-pointer at the buzzer, Atlanta would have posted a whopping seven points in the third. After owning the first half, the team from the A-T-L only made two fields goals in the last nine minutes of the quarter.
The Sixers are No. 1 in the NBA for second-half scoring. So, it wasn’t surprising that the lead rose to 11 points early in the fourth.
Elton “The Old School Chevy” Brand—shout out to analyst Malik Rose for that nickname—maintained his dominance against Atlanta on the offensive boards. Center Al Horford did not play because of a season-ending pectoral muscle injury.
The Hawks slowly lost their muscle and height on their flights and began to fade as the fourth quarter wore on. Philadelphia wore the basketball version of the dirty birds down and won, 90-76.
How fitting that the vaunted defense held an opponent to 76 points as the current most tenured Sixer got his 1,000th pick. Along with joining Philly’s basketball elite in steals, Iggy held Joe Johnson to eight points—half of his average.
Fans of the Sixers are glad Iguodala is still a 76er.
Now, Iggy and Philly are preparing to have at it with LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade could make a surprise appearance tomorrow night in Miami. In any case, it’ll be a battle between playoff combatants from last season.
Keep it locked all season on the Lake. Next, I’ll let you know how it went at South Beach on a Saturday night. The game, I mean—the basketball game.
Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net