Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Kawhi Leonard leads comeback from 13 point deficit in eventual win against 76ers.

Before the halftime buzzer, T.J. McConnell stole the ball from Tony Parker and launched a half-court prayer and it banked in, giving the younger 76ers a 5 point lead over the defending champion Spurs. Only down 5, San Antonio did not seem too worried once the 3rd quarter began, but that soon changed.

Despite playing well in the first half (including a 13-5 run in the 1st quarter), the Spurs offense went stagnant and the 76ers turned up the pace, eventually gaining a 13 point lead. Tony Parker continued to falter at scoring, Kawhi Leonard had 3 fouls and the Spurs were losing the battle of rebounds, allowing Philadelphia several second-chance baskets. Rookie stud Ben Simmons almost reached a triple-double as Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel kept the pressure on the Spurs, who began to improve at scoring but their defense began to weaken.

All of a sudden, Kawhi Leonard made two three-pointers and then stole the ball before firing another one from deep on the standalone fast-break opportunity, and the lead was cut down to just a point. The 76ers called a timeout after Kawhi's surge to 20 points on the night, but little did they know, the Spurs had finally woken up and Pau Gasol (who started well with 11 points) erupted to end the game.

The 76ers caught up and tied the game, to the loud applause of the home crowd, and actually took the lead back before a three pointer by Manu Ginobili courtesy of a screen set by Thaddeus Young (15 points) went through the net tied the game after a couple of empty possessions by San Antonio.

The Sixers called another timeout, but missed a shot after the inbound. The Spurs had a chance to take the lead with under a minute left now, but this possession had anything but flow to it. Eventually, after some risky passing, Pau Gasol launched a good look from distance (with the shot clock nearing zero) and it bounced, bounced, and bounced some more before finally going in the basket.

Suddenly, the Spurs were up by 3 with 30 seconds left and the 76ers struggled to get off a shot, let alone make one. They soon began to foul intentionally, and with only two misses on the night, the Spurs continued near perfection at the charity stripe to seal the game as a last second 3PTer was stuffed by Josh Smith.

Tony Parker, despite his own struggles, gave an interview after the buzzer noting the toughness and fight of his team to not surrender, even when down by double-digits on the road. The Spurs improve now to 4 straight wins and 15-7 on the season after another fabulous showing by Gasol & Leonard.