It doesn’t make much sense.
Typically when a team built like the 76ers plays the way it did for the first two-and-a-half quarters, it loses by 20. Especially on the road. After all, the Sixers missed their first nine three-pointers and 14 of their first 15. They went a horrid 7 for 14 from the foul line and their rookie point guard committed two turnovers in the first two minutes of the game.
Add in the fact that lightning-quick point guard John Wall scored 15 points in the first quarter and 23 in the first half, and it was easy to understand how the Sixers trailed by 14 points after the first 30 minutes of the game.
But what’s equally as easy to understand is how the Sixers pulled off the 109-102 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on Friday night. Sometimes when a team doesn’t know it’s supposed to lose games, a funny thing happens.
“Our guys don’t know what they don’t know and they keep playing,” rookie head coach Brett Brown said. “That’s how I want to keep it.”
The Sixers, a team most basketball experts picked to finish the season with the worst record in the NBA, are 2-0. Better yet, the Sixers are 2-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season, shortly before they traded Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets.
To get to 2-0, the Sixers beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat at home and then rallied on the road to beat the Wizards. Taken at face value, it’s tough to figure out which win was most impressive.
“It’s only two, but we sure are happy,” Brown said. “I think it was a similar way tonight versus the way we won against Miami. It’s the group’s ability to stay together and run and run and run and run late in the games. It helps us find a way to win by getting great defensive efforts and then running out of it.”
Perhaps a cynic would say, “Geez, these guys can’t even tank the right way.” But a closer examination of the final 18 minutes of the victory of the Wizards helps bring things into focus.
For starters, the Sixers got 74 points in the paint and attempted 54 shots from up close. They also got 20 fast-break points and 18 second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds.
How committed were the Sixers to running and getting shots in the paint? Try this for instance: Thad Young led all scorers with 29 points on 14-for-20 shooting and attempted just two shots from longer than 13 feet. Guard Evan Turner followed up his 26-point performance against Miami with 23 against the Wizards, made two shots from outside the paint and attempted just three shots longer than 14 feet.
The outside shooting came from point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who followed up his epic NBA debut with 14 points and five assists, and seven-footer Spencer Hawes, who scored 16 points with 14 rebounds and five assists.
It doesn’t make much sense.