Sixers Hit .500 After Beating Shorthanded Pistons

Written By Roy Burton On Saturday, February 26, 2011
After beginning the year with a disappointing 3-13 mark, the primary objective for Sixers' coach Doug Collins was to get his team back to a respectable record.

42 games later, they've finally arrived.

Behind a total team effort, the Sixers defeated the Detroit Pistons 110-94 at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.

The win -- which brings them to 29-29 on the year -- marks the first time they've reached .500 all season.

"This is a great night for our team and our fans," said Sixers' coach Doug Collins following the game.

Prior to the matchup with the Pistons, the Internet was all a-Twitter (pun intended) about the Sixers' opportunity to even their record for the first time in the 2010-11 campaign. The team itself seemed to understand the importance of the situation and came out exceptionally sharp on Friday, shooting 52.3 percent from the field for the game.

Andre Iguodala once again flourished in his point forward role with 21 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Elton Brand dominated the paint in his 29 minutes of work, finishing with 20 points and 17 rebounds.

The Sixers' reserves pulled out their usual bag of tricks, combining for 46 points on the night. Forward Thaddeus Young led the charge for the second unit, scoring 24 points on 12-for-15 shooting.

Now 19-9 at home on the season, the 76ers tied a Wells Fargo Center record with 34 assists on the night. That, combined with their 49-32 rebounding edge over the Pistons, was one of the primary factors behind the Sixers' 12th win in their past 16 games.

Nationally, the game story will be dominated by the uncertainty that surrounded the Detroit team for most of the day on Friday. Seven Pistons missed the pre-game shootaround for various reasons -- rumors quickly swirled suggesting that it was some sort of organized team mutiny.

Prior to the game, Pistons' coach John Kuester did his best to diffuse the situation. "There was a perception [of a mutiny]," said Kuester. "Sometimes perception and reality are two different things."

And sometimes, they're exactly the same thing.

Only six players saw action for Detroit on Friday night - none of the players who missed that morning's practice stepped onto the court. Several of those who were benched - including Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace and Rodney Stuckey - were openly laughing as Kuester was ejected in the second quarter after arguing a call.

The short-handed Pistons played remarkably well, considering the circumstances. They were led by an admirable effort from point guard Will Bynum, who scored 29 points, dished out 6 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds while playing all 48 minutes.

It should be stated that the Pistons' dysfunction should in no way cast a pall on the Sixers' victory. Winners of 26 of their last 42, the Sixers have been playing at a high level for three months now, and success -- even under these circumstances -- should in no way be discounted.

The win, coupled with the New York Knicks' 115-109 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, leaves the Sixers only a half-game behind the Knicks for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The playoffs will come soon enough, however. At least for one day, the Sixers will enjoy the feeling of reaching a goal that they had set for themselves after the disastrous start of the season.

"I can't even lie," wrote Sixers' guard Lou Williams on his Twitter account after the game. "A day like this. It's gonna be a helluva night."

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