The 76ers are back home and back over .500, even if the evening didn’t end smoothly.
Joel Embiid had 30 points and 18 rebounds Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center in a 110-102 win over the Detroit Pistons that improved the Sixers to 3-2.
The downside is Embiid’s services were required late as the Sixers couldn’t maintain a once-healthy fourth-quarter lead. An Embiid top-of-the-key three-pointer with 13.9 seconds to go sealed the final result.
Tobias Harris posted 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Tyrese Maxey recorded 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting and six assists.
Embiid (right knee soreness) and Shake Milton (right ankle sprain) played after being listed as questionable throughout the day. It was Milton’s season debut.
Here’s three takeaways.
Embiid dominates young Detroit centers
The Sixers led 12-5 at the first timeout. Detroit opened 2 -for-11 from the floor and 0-for-6 from three.
While the Sixers’ offense wasn’t spotless early on, the team got Joel Embiid the ball plenty of times against Isaiah Stewart, a scrappy but undersized second-year big man. Stewart didn’t help himself by biting on a couple of Embiid pump fakes. Embiid created the third foul from Stewart with 4:41 left in the first half as the 20-year-old tripped Embiid up around half court.
Stewart was replaced by Luka Garza. As was predicted, Embiid beat Garza for an offensive rebound soon after the rookie’s entry and slammed home a dunk. He gave a point back, however, picking up a technical foul after an emphatic reaction. Absolutely horrendous call in my opinion.
Garza drained two threes but was completely overmatched on the other side of the court, getting two fouls within two minutes. Embiid put up eight of the Sixers’ 12 first-half free throws, making seven of them. He also made the game’s flashiest pass, throwing a behind-the-back assist to Maxey and capitalizing on the Pistons’ panicked help defense.
Basically, Embiid took the game over once Garza stepped on the court.
Sixers nearly blow it, again
It was another close call from the Sixers Thursday night.
The Sixers’ bench broke the game further open early in the fourth on threes by Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz, extending their lead to 18.
That lead wasn’t enough cushion as Detroit went off on a 16-1 run after the Sixers built the lead to 22.
They’ve ended both their home games this season in shaky fashion, though this effort at least didn’t spoil a win. Still, the sluggish late-game offense and constant declining leads are clearly not good.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said pregame that Ben Simmons has been working out at the Sixers’ practice facility and was there for the team’s latest shootaround. According to Rivers, Simmons “did a lot of shooting and a lot of stuff” Thursday morning with skills development coach Spencer Rivers.
“The back is getting better,” Rivers said of Simmons. “It’s more about the mental. That’s where it’s at.”