Young's three ices game for Sixers

Posted: January 17, 2014

THIS ISN'T a season of understanding for the 76ers. At times it's hard to understand exactly what they are doing on the defensive end. Sometimes the offense is utterly head-scratching. Numbers don't make sense in determining the outcome of a game, and the reasoning for a win or a loss can be inexplicable.

There was a bit of all of that last night at the Wells Fargo Center as the Sixers hosted the Charlotte Bobcats. When you see that the Sixers turned the ball over 24 times, another loss seemed to be a foregone conclusion. But then you notice that they shot 50.6 percent from the floor (39-for-77) and held Charlotte below 40 percent and you see how it could have gone the other way.

Welcome to the 2013-14 Sixers season.

Last night they were able to overcome the bad and took advantage of an inexplicable Bobcats defensive move in the final seconds to pull out a 95-92 win, improving to 13-25. Charlotte, which entered the game as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, fell to 16-24.

With the game tied at 92 and the Sixers in possession with 15.4 seconds left, they inbounded the ball to Michael Carter-Williams. The rookie dribbled at the top for a while before Thaddeus Young came to set a high pick. As MCW (20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) dribbled away, both defenders followed, leaving a wide-open Young, who promptly buried his first three-pointer of the evening with 3.9 seconds remaining, snapping the Sixers' four-game losing streak.

Pretty it wasn't. But when wins are few and far between, the taste of them is a little sweeter.

"I look at it a lot [the numbers] that it validates us guarding," said coach Brett Brown. "To overcome those numbers and have 11 less shots, you're not winning those games. We did because we played, for the most part, pretty good team defense."

Brown has often said that if he doesn't get good performances out of his big three (Spencer Hawes, Young and Evan Turner) it is nearly impossible for his team to win. He got it last night as Hawes posted 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, Turner scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Young (11 points) saved his biggest shot to be the game decider.

"I don't know what they were thinking," Young said of the last play. "They kind of both ran to Mike and I was wide open. I said, 'I'm making this shot because I haven't made one the whole game. Whatever it takes it was going down.' That was the most perfect look you could get. Mike did a real good job of bringing two guys with him and making the easy toss-back pass."

None of it would have been easy had it not been for Turner's fourth-quarter performance in which he scored 11 of the team's final 17 points.

"So much of it is gut feel and matchups," said Brown of who he looks to in the waning minutes. "They figured stuff out. I think you have to put them in environments, you have the right combination and the right matchups and then they have to play. Evan created it himself. We want him to be aggressive. There were stages where probably he was too passive. I want him to find that swagger, I want him to get cocky, I want him to feel it in early offense with motion and momentum that he's a big man who can score.

"We want to put those guys in confident positions to take advantage of what he really does well. And he did. We don't want him to go missing. At the end of the game you toy with giving him the ball or putting Thaddeus and Michael in a middle pick-and-roll. We opted to do that because you can eat clock and ensure yourself that you're going to get the last shot."

Numbers be damned, it worked last night.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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