Collins must dream about this type of performance.
Early in Wednesday night's Sixers-Suns game, a track meet broke out.
Such occurrences are common in Phoenix's US Airways Center, especially considering that the Suns are 2nd in the NBA in scoring at over 107 points a game.
"I felt like I was a car going downhill without brakes," said Sixers' coach Doug Collins, describing the frenetic pace of last night's game.
So that fact, combined with the absence of Andre Iguodala (who missed his second straight game due to a nagging right Achilles' injury), did not bode well for the Sixers as the night progressed.
However, as one of the youngest teams in the NBA, Collins's team has the legs to keep up with the Suns' fastbreak mentality. But the Sixers did Phoenix one better on Wednesday, beating them 123-110 in impressive fashion.
Seven players finished the game in double figures for the 76ers, led by Jrue Holiday, who had 25 points to go along with 7 assists. Most encouraging was the play of Evan Turner, who received an emphatic hug from Collins after his career-high 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting.
"I told him I was so proud of him," said Collins following the game. "He was aggressive and assertive the whole night... Tonight, he was fabulous."
It would be irresponsible to say that Turner has now "arrived" strictly based on a single performance. However, the rookie swingman out of Ohio State looked more comfortable with his role on this team than ever before, even cracking a few smiles as his shots were falling last night.
Then again, everyone else's shots were falling, too. The Sixers were scorching hot in the first half, shooting 61 percent from the field. In fact, five Sixers had already reached double figures by the time both teams headed to the locker room at intermission.
The track meet slowed down a bit in the second half, but the Sixers still put up an impressive 57 points in the final two quarters. Andres Nocioni, who replaced Iguodala in the starting lineup, scored a season-high 22 points and played exceptional defense in his 41 minutes of work.
Even without the services of Iguodala, Collins tightened up his rotation, with only 8 players receiving any time last night. The only player who saw action who didn't score 10+ points was Jodie Meeks, who was 0-for-3 from the field and finished with only two points.
So it's safe to say that Wednesday's game in Phoenix was the most solid showing for the Sixers all season. It should be noted that the result was due in part to the general play of the Suns, whose "seven seconds or less" offensive philosophy often results in high scoring affairs.
However, that doesn't explain how Nocioni (12 rebounds), Spencer Hawes (11 rebounds) and the rest of their teammates dominated the glass, outrebounding the Suns 46-31. Or, even more importantly, how the Sixers were clearly the aggressor on offense, getting to the line twice as often as the Suns (35 free throw attempts to 17).
Of course, pessimists will point to the box score and obsess over the fact that Phoenix scored 110 points and shot relatively well (49.4 percent). Or that the Suns made 9 three-pointers - the second straight game in which the Sixers gave up a healthy number of threes (Golden State shot 15-for-23 from behind the arc on December 27).
Negativity aside, the Sixers should feel pretty good following Wednesday's result, their third win on their oft-discussed eight-game road trip. Games against the Lakers and the Hornets close out the journey before the team returns home on January 5 to face the Wizards.
For the 76ers, this is their 4th victory in their last 7 road games - a vast difference from when they began the season 1-10 in their first 11 games away from the Wells Fargo Center. The team is clearly headed in the right direction, and their coach couldn't be more pleased with his young charges.
"I love the spirit of my guys, I loved the way they played," said Collins, noticeably excited by his team's effort last night. "It was a great win."