An overwhelming Joel Embiid led the Sixers to their sixth straight win Friday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Embiid scored 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the team’s 119-100 victory over Tottenham. The Sixers are between 22 and 16 years old and could win their seventh straight game season when they face the Rockets on Monday in Houston.
Seth Curry and Tobias Harris each scored 23 points.
Degonte Murray scored 27 points and nine assists.
The Sixers were below Tyrese Maxey, Jaden Springer, Paul Reed (health and safety protocols), Shake Milton (bruise in the back), Isaiah Joe (back pain), and Ben Simmons (for personal reasons).
Michael Scotto from HoopsHype On Friday, I reported that the Sixers plan to keep Reed for the rest of the season and guarantee his full salary. Reed is set to generate approximately $1.52 million during the 2021-22 campaign, each Spotrac.
Before the game, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said he didn’t know half of his players’ names. Among the key figures who have been knocked out by Spurs due to health and safety protocols have been Keldon Johnson, Devin Fassel, Derek White and Doug McDermott.
Here are notes on the Sixers’ win over the depleted Tottenham:
Embiid class above
The Sixers started with a nice job that produced a Harris layup. Harris cut Iverson, then slammed a tailgate instead of going to the right wing, and Embiid hit him with a stride.
Embiid made another great pass a few minutes later, finding Thybulle to dip before the San Antonio double had any effect. Thybulle (12 points, 5-5, 2 steals) came back Friday after two games out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Speaking of neat passes, Thybulle’s over-the-shoulder Embiid coin price in the second quarter wasn’t a bad thing.
As is often the case with Embiid, it immediately became clear that he was superior to all at court. He made two fouls on Jacob Boeltel in the space of two minutes, sending Popovich out quickly. The Embiid fadeaway crosser put the Sixers ahead 20-7. He made nine fouls in the first quarter, while Spurs did not.
Embiid was sharp in defense early on, too. He guarded Murray at one key and stopped the Spurs goalkeeper from creating any space; Murray ended up committing a vertical foul.
Even after the Sixers grabbed a big lead, Embiid wasn’t in a merciful mood. He narrowly missed late in the second period on Drew Eubank before throwing one at Jock Landal.
In the third quarter, Embiid added two more fierce dips to the highlight reel.
For those inclined to nitpick, Embiid lost some bouncing fights and settled on some lackluster jumpers. Even more important, however, is that he’s played MVP-level basketball since his 3-for-17 release on December 1 in Boston.
“You can kind of see the fear in the defenders’ eyes,” said Harris. “When a guy’s that big and powerful and he’s hitting… he’s a bodyguard in the center. He’s doing some great moves, great footwork all around – his skill, his touch, his shot.” As for the players guarding it, what can you do?”
Fourth quarter injury fears
Furkan Korkmaz was once again among the key ball players for the Sixers without Maxi and Milton. Curry and Harris also continued to bring the ball up a lot.
These two were burning to start the match as they both opened 6-7 from the ground. Smooth and confident, Curry navigated his jumpers with ease. Harris did a lot of damage in and around the paint.
“The only play call (to Harris) was the first play of the game. … Other than that, he has a good rhythm now,” Rivers said. “He plays fast. You do not see the ball stuck in his hands; It’s quick decisions. When he does that, he’s really good.”
The Sixers had a few lulls. San Antonio reduced their deficit to 43-34 in the second quarter and Andre Drummond was called up for three fouls in his first six minutes. Murray got off the roll early in the third inning and single-handedly cut the Sixers’ lead from 18 points to 12.
Korkmaz appeared to sustain a hand injury in the fourth quarter and went to the locker room with head coach Kevin Johnson, though he eventually returned to the match.
Curry walked to the bench with a limp with 6:07 left, and Embiid was noticeably limping after about 30 seconds. The score was not fully consolidated yet and both remained in the match. Danny Green’s three-pointer with 3:52 left extended the Sixers’ lead to 110-94 and allowed the team to breathe a little easier.
Brown flashes in front of Philly fans
Charlie Brown Jr. made his hometown debut late in the first period and had his first fun stint for the crowd.
The Saint Joseph producer, on a 10-day hardship contract, gave the Sixers a 33-14 lead with one kick in transition. Later he picked up two steals and looked defensively smart. The 24-year-old had another positive play in the third quarter, capturing an offensive rebound and kicking the ball to Curry for three pointers.
Brown’s bright 12 minutes don’t indicate anything profound about his future in the NBA one way or the other, but it was an elegant night for a local kid.
“My agent called… and I was kind of shocked,” he said after the shooting around Friday. “I never knew I would be able to play for my local team. It’s all love. I am lucky to be here. I am lucky to be with these guys and grow.”
Carey, the two-time NBA star, loved what he saw from Brown.
“It’s a tough situation,” Curry said. “He came in and he brought a lot of energy. That’s the key to that, going in and trying to make your presence felt on the ground. Most of the time it’s not going to be done by scoring the ball, so you have to try to do little things, first of all. Thing, do your job at the end of the defense.
“Then try to do some plays, like he did with the offensive rebounds, the chops, and the transition out. Those are the things that you have to do. You have to find your baskets without being called into plays for you. He did a good job by coming in, being tall, Being active has given us a boost.”
Braxton key, another Former Delaware Blue Coat in a tough deal, debuted in the NBA in trash time. Two-way player Aaron Henry scored his first basket in the NBA.
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