For tonight, and only tonight, I apologize for ever degrading Spencer Hawes.
Down 10 with under three to play, the rational Sixers fan was smiling upon what looked a fifth-straight loss. Turnovers and missed free throws were aplenty and the team that Las Vegas predicted to win no more than 16 games this season was running through the motions at the Wells Fargo Center.
Then came The Great White Hope. Hawes turned into a pseudo Rocky Balboa and hit three 3s to propel an unfathomable comeback, the last of which was off one foot while he fell into the Bucks’ bench.
And then the 7-footer made two make believe pistols and tucked ‘em into the sides of his pants. If I had to take an educated guess, it’s a celebration he practiced on the middle school playground and hasn’t been able to put into practice since.
But tonight was one that defied structure. Caron Buter poured in 38, Evan Turner’s 27 ultimately led the Sixers in a lop-sided overtime frame and Hollis Thompson turned in a career-high 16. But Hawes stabilized the Sixers (6-8) with a little bit of magic, and the Bucks (2-9) were mere witnesses.
In a year that the Sixers could greatly benefit from each and every loss, they did their best to drop one to the East’s worst team. Philadelphia logged 26 turnovers, missed 11 free throws and Michael Carter-Williams fouled out in the final minute of regulation. But Hawes wouldn’t be deterred. He dropped 25 and grabbed 11 rebounds, and his play convinced Brett Brown that game-tying play should be designed for him.
And he delivered.
In overtime Marc Zumoff exclaimed that Hawes has been one of the NBA’s best centers. Believe me, I’m ready to jump on the bandwagon right next to you Marc, but I know I’ll regret that in the morning. I will say this:
You can tank all you want. You can scrap together a lineup of misfits and you can give all of those misfits a share of game time; hell, Elliot Williams got 14 minutes of burn on Friday night. But no matter how badly you may want Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, you can’t tie down Spencer Hawes.
For one night, as much is evident.