While it often has seemed as if the Sixers either can't catch a break or can't get out of their own way in late game situations, tonight they were able to overcome their late-game foibles for a 109-105 overtime win against the Indiana Pacers, giving the Sixers their first win of the 2016-17 season and Joel Embiid's first win as a professional basketball player.
Tonight's game featured plenty of 1st quarter lead changes, however an over-reliance on post plays led to them falling behind double-digits in the second quarter and the game appeared as if it were heading in a sour direction for the home team. Fortunately though, the Sixers re-discovered ball movement, generated some open looks, and three-pointers from Embiid, T.J. McConnell, and a Nik Stauskas in the final few seconds of the half allowed the Sixers to pull within one of the Pacers as the teams headed toward the locker room at 52-51 Pacers.
Much like the 2nd half on Wednesday in Indianapolis, tonight's 2nd half was a sloppy affair, although the Sixers came out of the 3rd quarter with a lead they struggled some more in the 4th quarter. Down six points however, Ersan Ilyasova gave the Sixers a huge lift by connecting on a difficult baseline three in which he was fouled. Ilyasova converted the four point play, and when the Pacers came up empty on their ensuing possession Embiid made a three of his own to give the Sixers the lead in the 4th quarter.
Naturally though since this is the 2016-17 Sixers, the lead could not and did not last. With the Sixers up 2 and less than 20 seconds left, Sergio Rodriguez fumbled the ball off an inbounds pass allowing the Pacers to scoop it up and have a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Gerald Henderson fouled Paul George with no team foul to give, sending the Pacers' best free-throw shooter to the line where he was easily able to tie the game at 100, sending us to overtime at that score.
Having hit his minutes restriction for the night, it appeared as if Embiid would not play in overtime. However with chants of "We want Embiid" emanating from the crowd, Brett Brown sent The Process back in with two minutes left in the bonus period, and the Sixers coach is probably thankful he did. The Sixers' big man managed a successful and-1 over and on former Sixer Lavoy Allen to give the Sixers a lead they finally would not relinquish, and the Sixers walked out of the Wells Fargo Center 109-105 victors, giving them their first win of the season.
Other notes from the game
- Despite his late-game heroics, Embiid did not have his best game of the season tonight. He shot only 33% from the field and looked vulnerable defensively at times against Al Jefferson. But while Embiid struggled more than usual especially in the early going, he still converted on 12 of 14 free throws and was literally and figuratively massive for the Sixers in the late stages of the game.
- Robert Covington shot 3-13 from the field and 2-0 from beyond the arc. Suffice to say, RoCo has had better days.
- Shoutout to Richaun Holmes for having himself a fantastic rebounding game, picking up four offensive rebounds and eight defensive rebounds in just 24 minutes of action.
- Timothe Luwalu DNP-CD
- The Sixers will have hardly any time to celebrate as they have a flight to catch tonight to Atlanta for tomorrow night's 7:30 PM road game against the Hawks.