by Kye Stephenson
Both teams come into the game playoff-bound. The Hawks locked up their spot and, as long as the Sixers don’t completely implode, they’ll be joining Atlanta in the post-season. The Hawks are coming off a big win over the Lakers but have played consistently sub-par basketball away from Phillips Arena (or as SLAMonline editor Ryne puts it, “The Hawks are just as poor as the Jazz on the road!”). But it’s a new day and tonight could be a chance for them to make him eat his words. So, as former UFC referee Big John McCarthy would put it, “Let’s get it on!”
— As I descend upon the Sixers locker room I can hear the sounds of someone getting roasted, which seems to be the theme for pregame. In this instance, it happens to be the Sixer team doctor. Reggie Evans (sporting the Philadelphia Freeway beard) calls out to “doc” and indicates that he wants him to get him some gold fronts.
— Iguodala enters the trainer’s room next and the rambunctious behavior continues. Iguodala is recounting something I can’t quite make out but was obviously funny as he and Evans crack up.
— At the head of the Sixers locker room, a big white board displays each Hawks player and their points per game as well as a notable stat. For example: Maurice Evans — 7ppg/Corner 3pt. Josh Smith — 15ppg/Good blocks.
— Willie Green cruises by humming “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West. He then proceeds to tease a Sixers employee about his supposed fake tan.
— The Hawks/Lakers game-tape plays in the background. As well as Ray J’s VH1 reality show “For the Love of Ray J.” Interesting choice.
— I notice that painted on the doors leading out of the Sixers locker room – amidst the murals of Barkley, Chamberlain and Mo Cheeks – there is a Mike Krzyzewski quote, “Find a Way to Win.”
— Numerous players are hitting up the weight room. Both Hawks and Sixers players together.
— The ribbing continues as Royal Ivey teases the locker room attendant “Frankie,” saying he looks like a “Mafioso,” and stating “It’s always the little ones that come out of nowhere.” Reggie Evans joins in and asks Frankie, “Tell’em who they got to come see if someone messes with me?” Frankie responds sheepishly, “I guess me.”
— Question of the Night: Who would you least like to face in a one-on-one matchup?
Jason Smith (doesn’t think twice): “Dwight Howard.”
Donyell Marshall (due to his tenure in the League, it was tough for him to come up with a single player): “K.G., Duncan, or Pippen and Barkley from my earlier years.”
Louis Williams: “Kobe.”
Joe Johnson (seems appalled at even the thought of naming someone): “Doesn’t matter.”
Reggie Evans: “Chris Paul.”
— Mike Bibby is having fun trying to block every shot his teammates put up during warm-ups. He’s like a little dog nipping at their heels.
— Toward the end of the 1st quarter Thaddeus Young goes down. A collective gasp can be heard from Sixers fans around me. He’s carried off to the locker room. Apparently it’s a sprained ankle. The X-rays are negative, but he will not return.
— At the end of the 1st, Sixers dancers are brought out and each take a turn running across court, and with the help of a trampoline, attempting to dunk the basketball. Not surprisingly, the crowd was enthralled (at least the males).
— At the half, the Sixers have come out fresh and are handling the Hawks. It’s 51-37.
— For the entertainment of almost no one, a collection of 10-year-old girls take to the court for an impromptu game of pickup. They might be able to give some WNBA teams a run for their money.
— Near the end of the 3rd a member of the crowd is given 30 seconds to make four shots from the free throw line. His form isn’t too bad but he fails to make the shots in time. In true Philadelphia fashion, he gets booed mercilessly.
– It’s the beginning of the 4th, and the Hawks have pulled even. Josh Smith has been unconscious. He’s been devastating near the hoop (including a couple nasty jams) and shown a perimeter game to go with it. He looks like an All-Star. He’s also sporting a real slick pair of adidas kicks. Not sure on the model but they’re certainly the dopest on the court.
— The Sixers dominated most of the game until early in the fourth when the Hawks went on a run, however the Sixers kept making buckets when they needed them and getting every loose ball and important rebound. The Sixers played a real sound game. They capitalized on Hawks’ mistakes and dominated on the inside.
— Ryne’s prediction holds true. 98-85 Sixers. (Don’t mess with the master — Ed.)
— Despite the impressive performance from Josh Smith (33 points, including 3-3 from 3pt), Bibby and Joe Johnson had off-nights (7 and 11 points, respectively), and that proved to be significant. Even with Thaddeus Young leaving the game early, the Sixers kept everyone involved and got solid minutes from Marreese Speights (16 points) to go with the 52 combined points from Iguodala, Miller and Green.
— Being in the locker room and seeing the murals of past Sixers stars and then sitting and watching the big screen run through highlights of the team, as well as the numerous banners hanging in the rafters, it really sets home that this is a rather storied franchise. There is indeed a legacy in Philadelphia, and the current crop of players certainly showed some talent tonight and pulled out a solid win.