That 'surprise' would also be known as the fourth quarter, if you happen to be scoring at home.
For three quarters, this year's scrappy version of the Sixers managed to hang tight with basketball's hottest team at the Rose Garden in Portland, even taking a 63-62 lead into the game's final period against the Blazers.
And on came that surprise quarter.
The Sixers would next score with 5:24 left in that fourth quarter, by which point there was an 80 in the Blazers' column, after 18 straight points to start the quarter and a 21-0 run overall. In the 6:36 before Andre Iguodala broke the ice with a trey, the Sixers would miss seven shots, turn the ball over five times and take exactly zero foul shots while accumulating two technical fouls as a team. When all was said and done, the Sixers finished the quarter with 5-for-19 shooting from the field, 7 turnovers and 3 technical fouls en route to being outscored by a 35-9 margin and suffering a 97-72 defeat. Chalk this one up as twelve very forgettable minutes for the boys from Philly.
On the other side, let's hear it for your tied-for-first-place Portland Trail Blazers! Sure, we're 30 games into the season, and sure the preceding comment is as premature as anything I have written in this space, but it is hard not to feel good for a team that was supposed to be headed for the top of the lottery, started 5-12 and is now the hottest unit across the Association. The Blazers have won 13 straight, and unsurprisingly, this latest one came courtesy of a full team effort. While LaMarcus Aldridge faltered (8 points and 2 boards in 26 minutes), his 'mates picked up the slack. Three reserves joined Brandon Roy and Steve Blake in double-figure scoring, and Jarrett Jack led the team with 8 assists off the bench.
No matter how long it ultimately can last, this Portland story is getting better by the day.