Trailing by three and inbounding from the Raptors end of the court, the pass to Iguodala at the top of the three-point arc went over his head and headed toward the sidelines.
Iguodala chased it down and with Chris Bosh on him and still looking at a full shot clock turned and heaved up a prayer that barely hit iron and was rebounded by Sonny Weems.
The Sixers were forced to foul and four Jarrett Jack free throws later, two of them finding the mark, the game was all but over.
Iguodala’s decision to go for an out-of-control three from well behind the three-point line left plenty of watchers scratching their heads.
“I don’t know what he was thinking,” Antoine Wright said of Iguodala. “He’s a great player. He did everything he could (Saturday) but I think maybe he just rushed his shot. He had a matchup that favoured them and I think he got a little ahead of himself.”
Iguodala, himself chose to give Bosh the credit.
“Bosh was guarding me throughout the whole overtime and he really would not let me catch the ball,” Iguodala said. “He was pretty much on me so I got some open space. I took it and you pretty much just got to let it go.”
Raps head coach Jay Triano tried to make a case for taking that shot but even had a hard time convincing himself it was a smart play when all the factors were taken into consideration.
“Let’s face it, three-point shots are easily rebounded by both offence and defence so they may get it back,” he said. “If it goes in, we have a ball game; if it doesn’t, you extend the game like they did. It might not be that bad a play to take a quick three, but I was surprised at the distance.”
As he stood watching teammate Jarrett Jack prepare to take the second of two foul shots with his team up by three and less than 20 seconds left in overtime, Antoine Wright glanced over at the guy allegedly guarding him.
Sensing disinterest, Wright knew what he had to do: he crashed the boards and grabbed another of Jack’s misses in what proved to be the defining moment of Toronto’s 128-123 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday afternoon.
"I saw (Philadelphia’s) Jrue Holiday wasn’t looking at me," said Wright. "He was looking over at the bench so I was like, I have to go, see what happens.
"Jarrett is a good free-throw shooter and normally makes them, but I was prepared just in case."
Wright corralled the errant shot, the ball got kicked back out to Jack and when he was fouled again, the point guard made two free throws with 14 seconds left to preserve a Toronto win after the Raptors had blown a 17-point third-quarter lead.
"That’s one of those things we’ve talked about – never quit on any play," coach Jay Triano said of Wright’s efforts. "Half the time, guys stand on the free-throw line and assume the ball’s going to go in. You never make assumptions and he didn’t assume, he kept playing and kept fighting and it got us another possession to kind of seal the deal."
Lots of in-game angst on the non-use of Sonny Weems for much of the fourth quarter – he only played 2:09 – and now I’ll tell you why and then what I think.
(I know. You’re really interested in the latter)
As perhaps you’ve noticed over the course of, oh, 67 games, Jay likes to have Hedo on the court down the stretch of games for his ball-handling and facilitating abilities. Against the pressing Sixers, who were scrambling the game, the coaching staff felt that because Turk’s a better passer and ball-mover and dribbler than Weems that they would give up some athleticism for a veteran presence. And I know this because I asked people.
Me? I’m entirely fine with it, as I said during the game. Sure, Weems was scoring – primarily against the non-defending Jason Kapono, who wasn’t on the court (yes, he also made eight straight Wednesday but at least four of them came in transition on breaks led by Jack) – but Sonny doesn’t have the handle or the court vision to add anything to a group trying to solve a junked-up game.
And, for a couple of defensive possessions in the dying minutes, Jay did use Weems as he always does in offence-defence situations.
Iguodala finished with 33 points and 11 assists, both season highs, to go with eight rebounds. Holiday added a career-high 25 points to help Philadelphia come back after falling behind in the third. The Sixers used a smaller lineup featuring Lou Williams and Holiday during their fourth-quarter run that stumped the Raptors.
“We tried to change a couple of pick-and-roll schemes, and that didn’t work, so we changed personnel, and that worked,” Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said.
Toronto hit just three of 15 shots and turned the ball over five times in the fourth quarter to let Philadelphia back in the game.
“We had the momentum, but they went to a small lineup,” Triano said. “Then we had turnovers and they started making shots. But we figured a way to come back.”
"We got some key stops, but we couldn’t get a rebound," said Jordan, whose team was beaten, 42-27, on the boards.
Despite shooting 57.9 percent from the floor, and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, the Sixers entered halftime down by 63-60. That was because they allowed Toronto to shoot 58.3 percent and 50.0 percent.
The Raptors led, 26-24, after one quarter. But with 4:06 left before halftime, the Sixers were up by 51-45 after reserve forward Marreese Speights threw down a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Iguodala. Toronto knotted the score at 55 on a three-point play by Bargnani, and outscored the Sixers, 8-5, over the last 1:33.
Iguodala had 15 points during the first two quarters, and forward Elton Brand scored 10. Bosh (13) and Bargnani (10) answered for Toronto.
I had to leave the game early due to toddler issues, so I watched the game on League Pass Broadband tonight. After seeing Iguodala ripped to shreds in the game thread, I decided to track his play all over the floor. It’s a pretty interesting story.
The most effective way to track impact was to look at possessions ended. On the offensive end, this means Iguodala either made a shot, missed a shot, got to the line, turned the ball over, assisted on a field goal, or on one occasion, threw a lob at the rim that Dalembert was fouled on (resulting in one point).
On the defensive side of the ball, I counted a made shot by Iguodala’s man, a missed shot by Iguodala’s man, a foul by Iguodala, a steal by Iguodala and a blocked shot by Iguodala. Here are the numbers:
On offense, Iguodala ended 34 possessions (out of roughly 99 total possessions). On those 34 possessions, the Sixers scored 60 points. On the other 65 or so possessions, the Sixers scored 63 points.
On defense, Iguodala ended 28 possessions (again, out of roughly 99 total possessions). On those 28 possessions, Toronto scored 18 points. I was liberal in assigning blame to Iguodala to get those numbers, as well. If a pick-and-roll was played poorly and his man wound up scoring on the big, the points counted. If the pick-and-roll was played poorly and he switched onto the big who then scored, the points counted.
The defensive numbers are skewed because I’m weighting a defensive rebound the same as a steal, or a missed shot by Iguodala’s man, but you get the point. The 33 points and 11 assists don’t even begin to tell the whole story about this performance. If all you care about is points scored, Iguodala was plus 15 on his man, and he literally guarded all five positions on the defensive end. If you do care about points produced, the edge is 42 points. If you’re of the mind this team needs to get in the open floor to win, Iguodala provided 12 transition-creating plays on the defensive end. If you’re into getting the other team into foul trouble, he went to the line 14 times.
Personally, I thought the shot was clearly ill-advised and 100% selfish. He wanted all the individual glory of hitting that shot, not to mention provide an opportunity for him to make some completely uncalled for gesture as if he, that shot and his team matter one bit.
There is no other reason for him taking that shot other than to say I have the ball to take that shot and hit it (if that were the case).
I like and dislike Iguodala. When he plays under control and within his means he is a highly productive player. I really like that player.
But often he gets into the mindset displayed in the above quote and his game goes to hell. That guy I don’t like so much.
As Nellie closes in on history, I wonder what the sentiment is around the NBA about Nellie’s possible achievement. I wonder if other coaches are looking forward to Nellie’s achievement giving coaches much more shine? If you’re Coach Jay Triano of the Toronto Raptors, would you give Nellie the win? Would any coach who respects his peer, try to facilitate him to reach his goals? Would you want to be known as Nellie’s record-tying win? Or even his record-breaking win? What do y’all think about that?
“It was a battle, we had such good momentum and then they went unconventional with that small lineup and we got sloppy with the basketball, turned it over and that gave them momentum and they started making shots,” he said.
“We broke the press but instead of breaking it to score, we broke it to break it. Then you’re fighting the shot clock, we have to break presses to score and make them pay for it. We didn’t do that, we were cautious with it … but we found a way to come back.”
A big reason they were able to come back was the don’t-quit attitude of Antoine Wright.
Having already failed to end the game in regulation, the Raps had a three point lead with 20 seconds to go in the extra period and Jarrett Jack at the line shooting two. Jack, an 85% free-throw shooter managed to miss both which should have gave the 76ers a chance at a tying three.
Wright, however, spying an opening, hit the boards hard allowing his team to get the rebound and forcing the Sixers to foul again, but not before it got back to Jack. Second time around, Jack hit both for a five-point lead.
“You have nothing to lose,” Wright said of anticipating a miss and going for the rebound. “If they get the rebound, they’re going to call a timeout anyway. It’s just a little effort play.”
The Raptors are entering the final stretch of the season – with only a handful of games remaining – and they’re in a dogfight for the 8TH (and possibly) 7TH seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
What a great time to check in with Jose Manuel for another edition of "8 Questions with Number 8" .
Sonny could be the best accidental positive in Raptor history
In the last two games, Weems has only missed two field goals. Compare that with Turk’s shooting. Now tell me who was this year’s big free agent acquisition. Sonny finished this game with an impressive 18 points which is a very nice supplement to the starting squad as early in the season, the starting squad seems way too stagnant to start games. Sonny seems to have all the tools that a player in his position needs to develop into a solid slashing sharpshooting wing. Only things he needs to work on is his free throw shooting and his three pointers. He defends well, has a great mid range jumper which he hits off screens very well, he rebounds, runs the floor and isn’t afraid of driving to the hoop. All this at under $800K which makes Bryan look a bit less stupid after picking up Turk. I’ve been calling to have him replace Turk in the starting line up for months. So far I’m feeling pretty good about that but it’s not like it took any sort of genius to figure it out. Just not a Triano. Sonny Weems is a diamond in the rough and the Raptors accidentally buffed it just a bit.
It’s good to hear that Turk has been putting in extra time in the gym. Hard work hasn’t exactly been his calling card in the league. A Turk who’s healthy, in shape and on top of his game is going to speak volumes if the Raptors make the playoffs.
It’s an ugly win, 20 turnovers were way too many. And some of those were cost by the pressure defense that Philly played. They liked to go for steals and get fast break points. Tomorrow, the Raps will play Golden States and the only defense they play is when they go for steals, so the team has to limit their turnovers. The Warriors will go for steals, so a pass fake (if anyone on this team could do it), would be very good. Chicago beat Charlotte tonight, so we will have to win on Sunday to stay 2 games up.