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Recap:

The Suns spotted the Sixers a quick 8-0 lead, but tied it back up at 14. Both team's largest lead for the first half from that point was five, which was what Philadelphia led by at intermission, 46-41. This was Sixers basketball, slow as molasses and as exciting as watching paint dry. The Suns repugnant three point defense continued as Philly shot 5-10 from deep.

The third quarter was played at a much livelier (watchable) pace. Philadelphia led through most of the quarter, and by as many as 10, but Phoenix kept it close for the most part and ended up down only 80-75. Gortat had a great quarter with 11 points and three rebounds to help keep the Suns in the game.

The Suns continued to keep it close in the fourth quarter, but it seemed like the game was slipping out of reach with the Sixers up 98-91 with 3:09 left and Dragic and Gortat on the bench. Dragic and Morris substituted in and pulled within one at 97-98, but the Suns couldn't execute when they had a chance to tie or win after a missed free throw by Holiday and fell to Philadelphia 104-101. Tough loss in an imminently winnable game.

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Player of the Game:

Jrue Holiday played like an all-star tonight. He was easily the best player on the court for either team. He added nine points in the fourth quarter, including a shot with 26 seconds left to put Philly up 102-99, en route to a 33 point, 13 assist effort.

Comments of the Game:

(great job keeping it real in the gamethread - you know who you are. Here's a hint... it's all of you.)

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This game is difficult for me to watch. I just went and ate dinner. Hopefully the Suns will pull off a win here.

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Gentry.. Come on man.

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How do we tell Beasley to bottle this game and do this over and over and over again?

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The Good:

The Sun put up a stout showing on the boards with Markieff Morris leading the way with 10. Overall, the Suns outfought the 76ers to a 41-33 edge.

Shannon Brown, the distributing marvel he is, led the Suns with seven assists. That somewhat made up for his 1-7 effort from the field.

The Suns kept it close the whole way and gave themselves an opportunity to win. Anytime a team does that on the road is an encouraging sign (the lugubrious fan writes about a good loss).

Marcin Gortat looked good in limited minutes (not exactly sure why they were limited) with 21 points and seven rebounds. It has been an up and down season for Marcin.

Beasley made a contribution on the offensive end, especially late, and finished with 21 points on 8-13 shooting. Tough break on the tying layup with time running down.

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The Bad:

The Suns continue to get abused from the three point line. Actually, abused isn't harsh enough of a word... maybe victimized or molested. The perimeter defense may be the tipping point that derails this season. It's going to lose them a lot of close games.

The Suns, who are 28th in field goal % allowed and 30th in three point field goal % allowed, had another effort commensurate with their ineptitude. Philadelphia shot 48.1% from the field and 47.4% from three. This is a team that's shooting 41.1% on the season. Ugh.

Goran Dragic. Everybody has off nights. This was one of his.

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The Ugly:

The whole first half. That was noxious. It was actually physically painful. It was like a snail crawling competition. If I'm going to watch two mediocre to bad teams play I think I deserve them to at least try to be entertaining. I can understand why teams like the Pistons and Spurs employed that tactic, but really? At least I can be grateful I don't have to watch that all season...

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When: Sunday, November 25, 2012, 4:00 PM local time (6:00 EST)

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR

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Last Meeting:

First meeting this season. The teams last played December 28, 2011 with Philadelphia winning in Phoenix 103-83 (in a game that's sure to have no bearing on today's contest).

Team Bios:

Philadelphia 76ers: 7-6

Points per game: 89.8 (29th) Points allowed: 90.9 (1st)

Offensive Efficiency: 96.3 (27th) Defensive Efficiency: 97.1 (2nd)

Philadelphia is coming off of two straight losses, including a 116-109 OT loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. Philadelphia's best player in the early season is Jrue Holiday, who leads the team in scoring at 17.5 ppg and assists at 8.9 apg. The Sixers are still indefinitely without their uber talented offseason acquisition, center Andrew Bynum, whose regulated activities now include bowling, walking, sitting and breathing. It's starting to appear that Bynum may never suit up for an actual game for the 76ers due to ongoing injury concerns. Check out this article on Liberty Ballers for the latest.

The Sixers play grind it out, slow it down, defense wins basketball. In Philadelphia basketball is not an artform, but a travesty that resembles a barroom brawl. The problem with their style of basketball is that while they excel on the defensive end they are equally inept on the offensive side. They do have some guys that can stroke it from deep, so don't be surprised if they try to exploit the Suns league worst 3PFG% allowed (.426).

For those of you who aren't familiar with the storied tradition of 76ers basketball, allow me to give you a quick tutorial: They traded us Charles Barkley. That is all.

Best things to come out of Philadelphia: Markieff Morris and cheesesteaks.

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Phoenix Suns: 6-7

Points per game: 100.5 (8th) Points allowed: 103.2 (30th)

Offensive Efficiency: 102.5 (12th) Defensive Efficiency: 106.0 (T-27th)

The Phoenix Suns are this close to looking like a real basketball team. Despite being 4th in the Pacific Division, they are only one game out of 5th place in the Western Conference. In a departure from most of last season, where the starting units (and those including Nash) carried the team, this year the bench has been their salvation. To illustrate this point, PJ Tucker and Sebastian Telfair have the best +/- numbers on the team.

While the Suns have managed four exhilarating comebacks from double digit deficits, all of those have been at home. The Suns lone road win (1-4) saw the opposite dynamic in effect as they nearly squandered an 80-65 lead and allowed the Charlotte Bobcats to close to 100-97 before Shannon Brown exploded for six fourth quarter threes. If the Suns plan on winning against Philly they will need a different game plan.

Unlike Philly, the Suns push the pace and score at an above average clip. Unfortunately the Suns are basically the worst defensive team in the league. Creating extra possessions only helps if you can score/defend at a better rate than your opponent. So far the Suns can't.

Goran Dragic (16.5 PPG, 7.4 APG) has been the Suns best, most consistent player this season, but don't be surprised if all four other starters to begin the season find their way to the bench if their indolent play continues (two down, two to go).

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What To Watch For:

Markieff Morris/PJ Tucker: These two have arguably (I'm conceding it to them) been the Suns two best players the last two games. If they continue their stellar play, the Suns should have a chance in this game. The entire bench has been outplaying the starters, to the point of early season lineup changes. Is the bench mob back? Young players and bench players traditionally have the biggest disparity between home and road performance. Watch to see if the hostile performance causes any dip in their output.

Pace: The Suns like to play frenetically and the Sixers prefer a plodding, methodical approach. OKC had some success controlling the pace against them last night until Philly stymied the Thunder into 13 fourth quarter points. If the Suns can score 100+, they will probably win. If they are below that mark, you get the idea.

Fresh Legs: The Suns are coming in rested and Gentry has found (some) players on the team that are willing to hustle like madmen. The Sixers are coming off an overtime loss to OKC last night. Advantage: Suns.

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The Final Word(s):

Despite all my bluster and bravado, I think the Sixers have the upper hand in this game. Even if we assert the teams are nearly equal (lots of people would still dissent on this), the Sixers have the trump card of playing at home. It would be an impressive, though not startling, road victory and a great way to start a road trip that could turn ugly if the Suns don't win a couple early.

But that still doesn't mean we're not coming for you, Philly... and your cheesesteaks, too.

Suns_cheesesteak_11


Time: 4 p.m. MST TV: FSA PHOENIX — It’s a good thing the Suns had two games under their belt to get acclimated with Alvin Gentry’s new lineup rotations, because as the team begins...

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Philadelphia 76ers 104, Phoenix Suns 101 PHOENIX — It’s a good thing the Phoenix Suns had two home games to get acclimated to Alvin Gentry’s new rotation, because as the team begins...

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This time of year allows all of us to reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for. As my wife reminds me, I need to be thankful for what I get, not for what I would like to get. No, I am not talking about that you deviants; I am talking about the Suns.

So in the spirit of the holidays, here are the top ten things I am thankful for about the Suns.

10. ROSTER TURNOVER
With all of the changes made to this roster, I can most definitely state that this season has been far more interesting than last year. Watching the same old, and I mean old, personnel clinging on to the glory of the good old days, was unwatchable. Good or bad, this team is interesting to watch. I can’t wait for it to be fun.

9. LAKERS STRUGGLES

I am usually not one to wish ill upon my rivals [oh who am I kidding, I can’t wait for Dook to go down in flames], I have to admit watching the “Super” team falling flat on their sacks is making me giddy. Don’t know how long that will last, but fun nevertheless. Oh, and apparently I was two days early on my prediction of when Kobe would start bashing his teammates.

8. MY DAUGHTER
As we were watching part of the game, my five year old daughter asked who the guy with the funny hair was [Beasley]. I asked why and I swear on my mother’s grave, she said “he doesn’t try very hard”. You can always count on little kids to tell it like it is. And mom, if you read this, ignore the part about the grave. Love you.

7. DARYL MOREY
Sure, you can make the case that he screwed us out of drafting Jeremy Lamb and other various undermining moves, but let me ask you something. Who would you rather have, Lin, Lamb and Patterson, or Dragic and Scola? Frankly, Dragic and anyone gets my vote. Lin will always be a poor man’s Dragic, Patterson will always be a tweener bench player and I have no idea what Lamb will be if anything. Thanks to Daryl Morey, for pushing Goran to sign here.

6. DOMINANT PLAY
Keep in mind, this is about being thankful for what we are given, not a time to gripe about what we are not. In several quarters this season, the Suns have put together dominant defensive performances to climb out of double digit deficits. If you had only watched those stretches, and not known we were behind, you would be talking championship. So I am thankful that we have been given glimpses of brilliant play.

5. KENDALL MARSHALL
I love a guy who has two L’s at the end of each of his names. I am thankful that the Suns drafted Marshall, who has clearly lifted the Suns through his lighting of a fire under Sebastian Telfair. Telfair clearly got the message that he better bring defensive intensity and run this club and stop thinking about his own play. While his numbers haven’t been any better, his impact has clearly been felt in a positive way. Plus, Marshall is getting schooled in how to be a professional, what he needs to bring to the table, and being given time to get there. I still believe that Marshall will matter to this franchise, and I just hope that isn’t the Tar Heel in me.

4. ALVIN GENTRY
I love the fact that Gentry is willing to play the guys that bring it. You can criticize a number of things about Gentry’s coaching, but the fact he is willing to sit guys without fear of retribution is something to behold. And he seems to be doing so without too much grief from the players, despite a losing record. Thanks Coach, more please.

3. PJ TUCKER
I think had the Suns passed up on Tucker and signed Diogu, we probably would be sitting here with a 2-11 record. Seriously! I cannot even imagine Diogu impacting the game, while I think Tucker has single-handedly won us several games. Maybe not through any particular play, but he certainly has shown that hustle, determination and having no fear produces results. Most of this team has picked up on that and the results have been spurts of inspired play.

2. GORAN DRAGIC
Equal to Tucker’s impact, Dragic has been everything we could have ever dreamed for thus far. An all-defense point guard, Dragic disrupts the opponent almost as much as Tucker, is in constant motion and never quits on that end, despite also being our go-to guy offensively. At the other end, if not for teammates failing to make shots, he may be second in the league in assists. Everyone keeps saying he is no “you know who”, but I don’t care anymore, because Dragic is getting it done and the other guy is nowhere to be found. Thanks Goran. You make this season worth watching.

1. SUN[S]
Finally, I am thankful that I don’t live in DC, Sacramento, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans, Orlando, Indiana or Minnesota. I am sitting here in my shorts and t-shirt, enjoying my backyard, and we are only one game below 500. Phoenix is pretty nice.

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