Things got a little hairy last night when the Sixers suffered a five-minute scoring drought smack in the middle of the fourth quarter.

Then Jimmy Butler, looking like Rambo and/or Jrue Holiday with an extra long headband, hit a fadeaway jumper and a James Harden step back while adding a steal on the other end and stripping Nik Vucevic on the following defensive possession.

It was a “what the hell?” type of moment, at least for me. Here was Butler, who had only attempted eight field goals to that point, hitting a couple of incredibly difficult mid-range jump shots while clamping down on the defensive end, as if somebody just flicked a light switch or turned their front burner from “low” to “high.”

When Mike Scott’s three-pointer went in with 49 seconds on the clock, the game was essentially over:

Butler gave one of his classic quirky press conferences after the game, coming out to the table alongside Amir Johnson for what he claimed was “moral support.” He didn’t want to answer our questions, not in an asshole-type of way, but in more of a “I just don’t have much to say” type of way.

But we asked anyway, and got this exchange out of him:

Crossing Broad: Jimmy this late game role –

Butler: Pffff, I just said I wasn’t answering questions.

Crossing Broad: Nah, hey, it’s two ways here. You had a big game, you gotta answer questions.

Butler: I didn’t do nothing.

Crossing Broad: You didn’t hit two jumpers and you didn’t have two big defensive plays at the end of the game?

Butler: I can’t remember (laughs).

Crossing Broad: You only took eight shots up until that point. When your number is called, is it difficult to be the closer when you really haven’t taken that many shots throughout the game?

Butler: Nah, I think I know when my number is gonna get called. I’m cool with it. I understand my role. Just gotta make shots late in the game. That’s why I’m here. Just happy that we can win.

Serena Winters: When you say that you understand your role and when your number is being called, what is that role?

Butler: For sure late in the game I think my teammates and coaches have a lot of confidence in me to take and make shots late. That’s all I’m worried about. I hope we never get into that situation anyways, but if we do, I feel like a lot of the times I’m gonna be called upon to make some shots.

Of course you’re probably wondering where Butler was for the previous 45 minutes, and I think that’s been a question over the last few games. He’s been oddly deferential, has he not? It’s one thing for Jimmy to be a good teammate and share the ball and play defense and glue everything together, but the other side of the coin is that he’s totally capable of putting up 30 points on any given night, when he’s really dialed in and assertive.

Brett Brown had more to say about Butler flipping that switch late in the fourth quarter, after the jump:

“Years ago, when the Lakers were my team I used to see Kobe Bryant do that all the time. They were my team for five years with (Gregg Popovich), like I was responsible for the Los Angeles Lakers. I’d study him a lot. He did that. Jimmy went through the first half, and he didn’t practice yesterday, he didn’t go through walkthrough today. I really wasn’t 100% certain he was going to play. The gym was moving, the ball was moving, people were scoring, and he was part of that. To your point, when it got to a stage of the game where we needed something a little different, something more, there he was.”

Dave Uram asked Brett if he’d like to see that “something more” from Butler throughout the course of the game:

“I feel, it’s a little bit to (the previous answer), that the game speaks. We have firepower and sometimes that’s just going to happen to Tobias or Joel. I love the pace that we played at. I love the sharing; what did we have 18 or 19 assists in the first half? Like we had another big number in the first half and we had 70 points against the seventh-best defensive team in the NBA, that is fighting their hearts out for a playoff spot. They beat the Golden State Warriors four days ago, a week ago, whatever it was. The ball moved, people played, the game speaks and that’s how it played out. I give him more credit than I do anything.

Yeah, I think that’s my first takeaway here. I think we’re framing all of these Jimmy Butler arguments and opinions as, “well, is he worth a five-year deal in the offseason if he’s going to play like this?” That’s fair, because that decision is coming sooner rather than later, but if Butler is finding a niche on this team where he shares the ball and acts like a team guy, but can still pop up and hit difficult shots when his number is called, I think you’ve got to be satisfied with that as of March 6th, 2019.

JJ Redick

He broke out of his slump early last night, hitting his first couple of three-pointers and going on to hit 6-9 from three while leading the team with 26 points.

I didn’t get JJ’s quotes last night, because he was speaking at the same time as Butler, but this was Redick’s first time in seven games that he’s shot better than 40% from the floor:

That Portland game was ugly, wasn’t it? Here’s hoping Redick is back on track as we head into the playoffs.

Amir Johnson

Really nice night for the veteran, who gave some interesting quotes that I figured I’d save for a sidebar story later today.

But he contributed 13 points on 5-9 shooting and grabbed 5 rebounds in 20 minutes on the floor, plus he did a nice job defensively against Vucevic, as you can see here:

Vuc only shot 2-9 when guarded by Amir last night. Really solid considering the fact that the All-Star is averaging 20 PPG this season. He only scored 12 last night.

Amir also took three three-pointers on the night. The first one was pretty. The other two looked like me shooting three-pointers at the Fishtown rec center.

Justin Patton

He came in at the end of the 1st quarter and played about nine minutes total.

There’s work to do, especially on the defensive end, but I liked his passing and rim running. He had a nice heads up assist on a play where Tobias Harris dumped it down to him and he immediately pushed it back out to Redick for a wide-open three. Later, he threw a really nice backdoor pass from the three point arc to get Harris for an easy layup.

Brett Brown had two Patton-related quotes after the game:

Not afraid. I thought he passed the ball well. He took the shots he should have shot, comfortably. I see size that moves. There’s an agility about his style of play that, at his age his skill set is really interesting. I saw that.

Kyle Neubeck asked a follow-up about getting him minutes vs. moving forward into the playoffs:

He was on the court tonight because of circumstance (injuries). It’ll be hard for him to continue to grab minutes, with the way our team is constructed and the calendar. In March, I don’t feel the need to do anything else but win games. The development will come and maybe some more G League appearances. When I’m able, I’ll use him. If something like tonight happens again, I’ll do what I did. I think because minutes are so scarce, that if he does make a mistake in the game, it’s not my style to yank him out. I’ll hit him in a dead ball situation and continue to coach him in real time and grow him in that capacity. He’s a good kid and he’s trying, but how much I’m going to be able to play him going forward is up in the air. That’s up for debate.

Until we see Patton again, I’ll leave you with this nice pass:

Happy Wednesday.

As the camel in those Geico commercials would say, it’s “Hump Daaaaaaay!”