The Philadelphia 76ers haven’t exactly risen from adversity this season. The Sixers didn’t come up big to make up for Andrew Bynum’s injury, then sunk into a deeper hole after the All-Star break. However, the Sixers have shown some overdue resiliency over the last week, which they further proved by holding off the Portland Trail Blazers on March 18.
The Sixers barely held on by 101-100 after the Trail Blazers missed two chances to win in the final second. Philadelphia should have fallen apart when it gave up a 14-point lead, yet it rallied to take the lead. But it nearly blew a four-point lead with seconds left when Damian Lillard hit a three-pointer and the Sixers mishandled an inbound pass.
Nevertheless, LaMarcus Aldridge missed a winning shot over Spencer Hawes and a tip-in didn’t go in at the buzzer. Despite racking up 32 points and 14 rebounds, Aldridge came up short when it counted the most for Portland.
Philadelphia has blown a bunch of winnable games and came up short when things got tough. Now that the rest of the season doesn’t matter, especially with Bynum finally facing season-ending surgery on March 19, the Sixers have chosen a strange time to come up clutch.
After beating the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers and nearly upsetting the Miami Heat last week, the Sixers closed their surprisingly successful home stand against a much less elite team. Yet the Trail Blazers still have slightly better playoff hopes than the Sixers, although a loss like this won’t help them at all.
If Portland had played Philadelphia a few weeks ago, that early 14-point lead would have been more than safe. But for some reason, the Sixers are showing a pulse right when it is too late to matter in the big picture.
Perhaps it was easier for them to do this in Philadelphia, where they still have a winning record. But the Sixers must keep this momentum up for the next several games on the road, where they haven’t won in weeks.
If this home stand was a last gasp for the Sixers before harsh reality sets back in, at least it provided a few wins. They were the kind of wins Philadelphia could have used some time ago, but apparently one can’t have everything.