Sixers come out blazing to turn back Heat

Posted: November 01, 2013

IF YOU ARE going to have your surprisingly successful debut overshadowed by anyone, having it be done by one of your players is probably ideal.

In the first 6-plus minutes of his NBA head-coaching career, 76ers lead man Brett Brown saw his team make its first 11 shots and jump out to a 22-point lead over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Sixers scored by running, they hit pull-ups, long-range bombs - anything and everything.

Eventually the Heat did what everybody anticipated and took the lead. But Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams outplayed pretty much everyone and posted a ridiculous line of 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, seven rebounds and only one turnover to lead the Sixers to the improbable, 114-110 win in front of a near-sellout crowd of 19,523.

The win was a never-ending wave of emotion for the young team, new coach and fans. The Sixers allowed the Heat to drain 10 of 13 three-pointers in the third quarter and score 45 points in taking a 94-85 lead into the final quarter. It was in that final 12 minutes that the Sixers forced Miami into 10 straight misses down the stretch, and limited the Heat to only 16 points the rest of the way. Evan Turner, who missed a couple of key shots down the stretch, was able to drain two huge free throws with 19.1 seconds left for a four-point lead. He led the Sixers with 26 points.

"I was just going out there and trying to play my part as a team," Carter-Williams said. "I'm going to do as well as the team does. We had a lot of guys going. Evan was great, Thad [Young] was great [10 points, six rebounds], and Tony [Wroten] coming off the bench [14 points] was awesome. I was able to find some openings, and they were able to find me on some open shots, and that got me in the rhythm."

Carter-Williams did a fantastic job of using his length to get into passing lanes all night. As the night progressed, the rookie seemed to gain more and more confidence in his first professional game.

"The stats speak for themselves, really," Brown said of his point guard's debut. "I actually thought he could have had one more steal. He was in the wrong place.

"We tried to come up with a game plan, and you try to come up with how the team is going to play overall, and he is a big part of that, and with his length and him cheating and reading gambles where we have to turn him loose a little bit. He was really good. What do you say? Just look at the win and look at the stat line. He was really, really good."

The big guns were brought out for the initial game of Brown's coaching career. Julius Erving, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Billy Cunningham, Doug Collins and Bobby Jones were just some of the alumni there to see LeBron James and company.

So, naturally, Brown did what would be expected of any coach overseeing his first game in front of organizational royalty: He started out with an incomprehensible first 6 minutes.

What is all this talk of rebuilding?

"What do you say? The guys jumped out. We ran out of it," he said. "We got stops and ran out of it, and Miami, I'm sure, is coming off an emotional night for them [Tuesday] night. We have this win in perspective. It's a great win. We found a way to beat a great team, a well-coached team. But I'm sure [Tuesday] took its toll on them."

Tuesday, the Heat beat the Chicago Bulls in the season opener, a night in which the players collected their championship rings. Sure, they were playing for the second straight night, and, yes, they were without a resting Dwyane Wade, but still . . .

"We came out aggressive, played hard and we just attacked and tried to run them as much as we possibly could with our energy and defensive switches," Turner said. "We just stuck together, and it started with coach. He stayed calm, he stayed poised, he didn't flip out when we gave up the lead or anything like that. We followed his path and stuck together, and we had a pretty big game."

Spencer Hawes scored 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting . . . The nine steals by Michael Carter-Williams set an NBA record for most pilfers in a debut . . . The Sixers allowed the Heat to score 80 points in the second and third quarters combined . . . The win snapped a 15-game, regular-season losing streak to Miami.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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