Sixers overcome early struggles to pound Hornets
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NEW ORLEANS -- It was almost as if the 76ers flipped a switch.
Or maybe they got yelled at during halftime.
Either way, the Sixers put it together in the second half on Wednesday night at New Orleans Arena to win an ugly one, 77-62, over the Hornets (see Instant Replay)
. After committing 14 turnovers before halftime to fall into a five-point deficit, the Sixers gave the ball away just once during the second half and won it going away.
It truly was as different as night and day.
“In the first half, we forced it and tried to make the perfect play,” said guard Jrue Holiday, who had 14 points and a season-high 12 assists. “In the second half, we trusted the system, and we just kind of came together.
With first-round draft picks Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers out with injuries along with veteran guard Eric Gordon also on the shelf, head coach Doug Collins realized that the Sixers were wasting a chance to sneak away with a win over a depleted team.
Suffice it to say, the coach told the team about it during the intermission.
“We just tried to pick it up,” Holiday said. “Coach really reamed us at halftime, and then we tried to pressure everything. We tried to pressure and we tried to talk, and we came together to play like a team.”
The Sixers opened the second half with a 10-point run to erase a one-point deficit. They continued to push the pace in the fourth quarter and built a 23-point lead with 3:35 to go. as They closed the contest without a turnover in the final 19 minutes.
“We were just so hesitant and indecisive during the first half on offense,” Collins said. “We were passing up shots to try and throw a pass into an area where there was no place to go. We had 14 turnovers at the half and I told them, ‘Guys, we had a playoff game last year we committed just five under the greatest pressure you can have.’”
Five players scored at least 11 points, with Holiday and Evan Turner leading the way with 14 apiece. Strangely, the Sixers cruised to the victory even though they made just four three-pointers and went 3 for 5 from the foul line.
Odder still was the fact that all five of those foul-shot attempts came during the third quarter. That’s three quarters of NBA action in which a team did not get to the line once.
Collins said that showed the ineffectiveness of the team’s offense.
“It shows the indecision,” Collins said. “They really pack it in and they don’t pressure you above the three-point line because they really don’t have the guards that can do that. They have size, so they try to get you in the paint trying to play over top of them and forcing passes. There aren’t a lot of driving lanes.”
Holiday said the Hornets’ defense dared the Sixers to shoot it from the outside, and based on the numbers going into the game, that wasn’t a bad strategy. The Sixers were shooting an NBA-worst 37.2 percent after three games with an average of 21 three-pointer attempts per game.
If the Sixers wanted to shoot it, the Hornets weren’t going to stop them.
“They dared us to shoot the ball,” Holiday said. “In the first half, we had a lot of good looks and we missed. They dared us to shoot the ball and we didn’t knock them down, but we will.
After a 6-1 exhibition run in which the Sixers routinely poured in 100-plus points a game, it was assumed Collins’ bunch would be a high-scoring team ready to fire it up in transition. With the addition of known gunners Nick Young, Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright to complement Holiday, the Sixers’ perimeter shooters were as good as any in the league.
Yet after four games it might be fair to surmise that if the Sixers want to get the offense going, they’re going to have to use the defense as the catalyst. Sure, the ball dropped in a few more times during the second half, but it all started on the other end of the floor.
“We had nine straight stops at the end of the second quarter and we stopped them 10 out of 11 to start the third,” Collins said. “Then we started making shots.”
The Hornets scored just 25 points during the second half on 28.1 percent shooting. They also committed 24 turnovers and had just one player -- Ryan Anderson -- score in double figures. Anderson, a veritable Sixers’ killer, got all of his points during the third quarter.
With the victory, the Sixers improved to 2-2 this season and head to Boston for a showdown against their bitter rivals on Friday night.