Dead team walking.
With the Sacramento Kings on their deathbed because of their potential franchise relocation to Seattle, the Philadelphia 76ers played like a team in critical condition in their 110-102 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Philadelphia clambered around like annoying zombies in this game — they really didn’t have much of a pulse but they kept on chasing the Bucks to within arms’ reach. They almost got there, but they never really did.
Despite a game that had the powers to transfix observers into the trance of the undead, most of the key Bucks players had decent to great performances. One of the biggest story lines going into the game tonight was the competition between Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday and their battle to decide who’ll be selected to one of the reserve spots in the Eastern Conference All-Star game lineup on Thursday. The clear winner of this battle was Jennings, who put up 25 points and 7 assists while shooting 8-for-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from behind the arc. Holiday, on the other hand, just looked outmatched the entire game. Despite having 12 assists, he was denied most of the times he tried to drive at the basket. Whoops, he just committed another turnover.
I’ve been a big critic of Monta Ellis for most of the season but even I have to admit that he had a great game last night. He appeared to be the second option behind the red-hot Brandon Jennings, but Monta still was an extremely aggressive player which I love. Ellis took a strategic approach, carefully planning out when to drive to the basket and when to dump it off to a teammate — the end result was ten beautiful assists and few wasted possessions on poorly chosen shots.
The only real flaw with Ellis was the fact that his defensive assignment for much of the night, Evan Turner, led the 76ers with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting with seven assists.
Ersan Ilyasova put together another full stat sheet. He was electric coming out of the gate in the first quarter (8 points, 5 rebounds) and kept it going throughout the rest of the game. He did all the great things he did last year like hitting spot up jumpers (27 points on 10-17 shooting) and being an absolute monster on the boards (16 rebounds). Ilyasova started the season slowly, so his performance in tonight’s game hopefully marks a good sign of things to come as the second half of the season approaches.
Even though Ersan had 16 rebounds, the Bucks still allowed the 76ers to have 19 offensive rebounds — a huge factor in keeping this game relatively close throughout. This has been a lingering problem since the preseason. One reason why this may be happening is because coach Jim Boylan is still trying to figure out his ideal rotations both in the front and backcourts. Now I do think the Bucks are a good team but they’ll have to find a way to prevent these second-chance opportunities if they want to contend with the better teams in the conference.
Or they too may join the ranks of the playoff season’s undead.