About halfway through the second quarter last night, Marreese Speights missed a step-back three. It was the first shot he'd missed all night, and it seemed to be off more because Speights got tired from bludgeoning the 76ers with their own dismembered arms and legs than because of anything Philadelphia had done.
Speights does this. Last night's 32 points were a career high, but he goes on prolonged stretches in games where he looks unguardable, even though he's kind of below average around the rim, where he takes most of his shots, and lives on long two-point jumpers otherwise. But they're muscular twos he's taking, shoving off for space with not just a forearm, but his whole damn body, which is considerable.
Unlike savvy, curvy players like Boris Diaw, Speights doesn't just run on brain power and high fructose; he plays like the offense is all his. Speights is the platonic ideal of the chubby gunner, probably underrated in our beloved fat NBA player rankings. He takes too many shots—he's hovered around an absurd usage percent of 25 or so, just behind Dwight Howard and Chris Paul this year—and gets just hot enough just often enough (which is possibly less dumb a rationale than we've been led to believe) that he gets to keep playing, and keep shooting.
This kind of thing happens in February—a week out from the All Star break, a bench player who's feeling feisty for whatever reason (fellow former Sixer Andre Iguodala put up 11 points, six assists, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks), and a bad team that's utterly given up, as Philly almost certainly has, realizing it's got another 30-odd games to go until the hurt stops. Whatever. Just enjoy Marreese Speights, cosmically exhausted, taking in M-V-P chants from the free throw line, however it comes.