Before the teams took the court tonight in Denver, there were two streaks on the line, one much more impressive than the other. The Nuggets entered Thursday night’ match-up winners of thirteen consecutive, while the Sixers entered losers of fourteen straight away from home. When the teams walked off the court, both streaks continued as the Sixers lost a heart-breaker in the final seconds.
Let’s set the stage. The Sixers are up by five with less than thirty seconds remaining. Corey Brewer then hits a three with 9.2 seconds left on the clock, making it a 100-98 Sixers’ lead. Denver plays air-tight defense on the inbound and force the Sixers into consecutive timeouts to avoid five-second violations. On the third attempt, Evan Turner receives the inbound pass and is fouled by Brewer with 7.1 seconds remaining. Turner walks up to the charity stripe, calm and confident. He misses the first. No problem, make the second and it’s a three point game. Right? Wrong! Turner misses both, Anthony Randolph grabs the rebound and calls a timeout simultaneously. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, it did. The Nuggets inbounded the basketball, Corey Brewer took one dribble, shot a three-pointer, and got fouled. Wilkins fouled
Brewer, and sent him to the line to shoot three with just a two point lead. Brewer did what he did all night long, and knocked down all three free throws. Doug Collins called a timeout and drew up a play. On the inbound, Wilkins received the pass, and got his last second shot blocked by Anthony Randolph. Game over. Nuggets win. The streak continues.
In a game without Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler due to injury, Corey Brewer and Andre Miller stepped up in a huge way. Brewer added 29 points, and Miller added 21 of his own to go along with 8 assists. Andre Iguodala, of course, was facing his former team, and made his presence felt at the defensive end of the court as usual.
For the Sixers, Spencer Hawes chipped in 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks before fouling out in the fourth quarter. The team was +22 with Hawes on the court, and the 7-footer did a lot more than just what his stat sheet indicated. Jrue Holiday also bounced back from his worst game this season, adding 18 points and 15 assists. Damien Wilkins also added a season-high 24 points of his own.
After 9 ties and 16 lead changes, the Sixers lost 101-100 to the Denver Nuggets after outplaying George Karl’s squad for the majority of the second half. Despite shooting over 55% from the field, it was the second consecutive night the Sixers had 20 or more team turnovers. 22 turnovers led to 25 Denver points, and that may have been the difference. Regardless of how well they competed, the Sixers found a way to lose another game. Do not get it confused. The Nuggets did not take this game, the Sixers handed it to them.