SportsProf

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

76ers 88 Hornets 70

I took my son to the 76ers' game today and had the following observations:

1. The Hornets, who have lost 8 of their last 11, showed up asleep. There's no other way to describe how horrid the Hornets' effort was. The 76ers' announcer said in the post-game that the team played great defense, and perhaps they did, but I also know that Marco Belinelli missed 5 wide open shots in the first quarter.

2. The 76ers keep on having multiple players scoring in double figures, a balance that will enable them to fare better because opponents just cannot key on Andre Iguodala. Lou Williams led the way with 17 off the bench, and Iguodala and Elton Brand also played well. Say what you want about Iguodala's not being the type of player to be the #1 option on a good team, but the guy hustles out there.

3. Mareese Speights might never get out of 76ers' coach Doug Collins' doghouse. Bad passes, a missed dunk, the guy has talent, but he needs to play smarter and work harder.

4. The place was at least half empty. Don't know what the official tally was, but you have to wonder who ups for the good seats at half court and behind the baskets. Either they're not upping, or they're not showing and cannot dump the tickets on StubHub. At least 1/3 of the suites looked empty, perhaps more. Put different, traffic to the game was non-existent, and it took me longer to get out of Princeton's parking lot after the Tigers' victory over St. Joe's last Sunday (where perhaps 2,500 people were in attendance) than it did to get out of the Wells Fargo Center's lot today. And it's not because that many people left that early, either.

5. Chris Paul seems very frustrated. I don't see him dining with Marco Belinelli after the game any time soon.

6. What happened to Emeka Okafor? The guy was once the NCAA Player of the Year, but he did nothing today. Zilch. Did the long-term contract make him dumb and happy? (He's still sculpted, so I cannot contend that he's "dumb, fat and happy")? He looked like a spare part, an elder statesman, just happy to be in the league.

7. One of the best jobs in America is to be an assistant coach on an NBA team. What the heck do all of those guys do? I mean, I could see having one assistant who focuses on offense, one who focuses on defense, and a few younger kids in the scouting department to give you a breakdown of the opponents in advance of the game. But it looks like a Secret Service detail is on every NBA bench. If the league has money problems, they only have to look to the also-rans, who have the same fully burdened costs as the top teams -- the funsters, the dancers, the dunkers, the concession stands folks, the people who take your photograph as you enter the game. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice experience, but how long can it really last? Then again, I am a Phillies' fan and go to packed houses. I'm sure that baseball fans in Pittsburgh must wonder how long MLB can last if more teams are like the Pirates than are like the Phillies.

8. Doug Collins is good for the 76ers. Stephen A. Smith had wondered aloud what Collins would have wanted the job and said the team was lucky to get him. They were. They're playing smart, they're involving everyone on offense (looks to be a 1-4 stack, and they bring the double posts out high to screen and roll, leaving the PG to even do a back-door play with the wing players). On defense, many players are showing good form and giving a good effort.

9. Thaddeus Young is a good player to having coming off your bench. He is -- he's athletic, he's a tough match-up (and, of course, it's tough to match him up on a 4 because he's not that big or on a 3 because he's not that quick), and he can put the ball in the basket.

10. Chris Paul had 25 points, but most came in the second half, and most of the second half was garbage time. Remember, it was 54-23 76ers at the half.

11. The 76ers were fun to watch. They really were, and you can go to the 11th Street Atrium and get chicken cutlets and crab fries from Chickie's and Pete's before the game -- always a treat. And for whatever reason today, this spot was barren today.

12. The 76ers had 24 assists to 14 turnovers, while the Hornets had 4 assists to 13 turnovers. 4 assists for the entire game? Proves my point regarding the Hornets' looking to be on life support. And don't blame Paul, either. He plays with a lot of energy. David West had a bad day today, and it seemed that for a good part of the time he was in there he was setting moving screens that weren't called. Trevor Ariza, the big free-agent signing, was missing in action.

13. How good is the Hornets' bench? Hard to say. 76ers' cast-offs Willie Green and Jason Smith aren't all that good, or else why would have the 76ers passed on them? After all, weren't the Hornets supposed to be better than the 76ers going into the season? Guards Jarrett Jack and Marcus Thornton played with some passion, and back-up big men David Andersen and Didier Ilunga-Mbenga (the former is from Australia; the latter from the Democratic Republic of Congo) are intriguing. Andersen has a shot, while Mbenga is huge, but still raw after 6 years in the league. Put differently, the Hornets don't appear to have a lot of quality on the bench.

14. How good are the 76ers? They're improving. Don't purchase your playoff tickets yet; they won't get there this year. But they took advantage of a floundering team and put them away early, and that's a good sign for the franchise.

Now only if they can get more people to go to the games.

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