The 76ers were holding back the flood with Dixie cups and tissue paper.
Missing open shots and struggling for any kind of offensive presence, the Sixers were neck and neck with the Los Angeles Lakers using ragtag basketball and playing with crossed fingers, hoping that maybe the Lakers would never start hitting shots.
In the fourth quarter Friday night, the Lakers finally broke through, pulling away in a 93-81 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
In about the same time it took Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to make an appearance - Vick walked in at the end of the third quarter and left midway through the fourth - the Lakers reeled off a 27-6 run that essentially sacked the Sixers.
Spencer Hawes scored 18 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the Sixers, who dropped to 10-16. The Lakers, led by Lamar Odom with 28 points, improved to 20-7.
Most of the game, looked as if it could come down to the final few minutes.
With 36.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter, on a baseline three-pointer by Andre Iguodala, the Sixers took a 62-56 lead. A few minutes later, after Odom repeatedly added his name to the play-by-play transcript, the Lakers were ahead, 83-68.
"It's tough," Sixers power forward Elton Brand said. "That end of the third quarter really hurt us, beginning of the fourth. We had a little lead."
During the Lakers' burst, superstar Kobe Bryant watched from the sideline. Bryant, who suffered a sprained finger in the first quarter, was 3 for 11 with nine points - merely a sidekick for Odom and center Pau Gasol, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
"It's interesting," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "Both times they made big pushes, they'd taken Kobe out for rests."
It was all right for Bryant to rest because the Sixers' offense was less than explosive. The starting backcourt of Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday finished 4 for 22 from the field and 0 for 7 from beyond the arc. Combo guard Lou Williams was 3 for 10 from the field, 0 for 2 from three-point range, while forward Andres Nocioni was 2 for 8 from the field, 0 for 5 from beyond the arc.
The Sixers missed their first 11 shots from the floor and did not score until 6 minutes, 36 seconds remained in the first quarter.
"I looked at our coaches and said, 'Those are good shots, aren't they?' " Collins said. "And they said, 'Yeah, we're getting great shots.' "
"Just one of those nights," said Williams. "We got a lot of open looks - myself, Jrue, and Jodie. We just didn't make our fair share."
And still this game was back-and-forth, although something would have to give: Either the Sixers would stop missing or the Lakers would stop hitting.
At the start of that fourth quarter, the Sixers went 0 for 7. During that span, the Lakers went 3 for 7 from the floor and 4 for 4 from the line.
Los Angeles scored 35 points in the fourth quarter.
"I told our guys, 'That's what we aspire to be one of these days,' " Collins said. "A team that can go to another level. Right now, we have to play every possession that way. The Lakers have another gear that we just don't have."