It almost happened again.
With 2:20 left in tonight's game, the Philadelphia 76ers had a seemingly comfortable 109-102 lead over the Dallas Mavericks. But as we've learned throughout the past few years, nothing is ever comfortable with this team.
Over the course of 28.9 seconds, noted Sixers' killer Harrison Barnes (who finished with a game-high 25 points) knocked down two three-pointers, and the Sixers held a mere one-point lead with 8.1 seconds remaining on the clock. It's a movie we've seen many times in recent history, and it has usually ended the same (terrible) way.
This movie was different, however. Yes... Jerryd Bayless only made the front end of his two free throws to stretch the lead to two. And yes... the Sixers inexplicably fouled Yogi Ferrell with 0.2 seconds left. But Ferrell - a 95.7% free throw shooter coming into tonight - missed the first of his pair, and Brett Brown's squad was able to escape Dallas with a 112-110 victory.
Tonight, we witnessed what might have been the best game of Ben Simmons' young career. 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals, one turnover... it was simply a thing of beauty. Numbers aside, Simmons was extremely engaged on defense against the Mavs, and he and surprise starter Dario Saric (whose 12 points came courtesy of four three-pointers) had a few decent moments of two-man basketball.
Ben Simmons. Not bad. pic.twitter.com/R0aaukqjco— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) October 29, 2017
Speaking of surprises, there may have been no more eyebrow-raising performance than that provided by one T.J. McConnell (15 points, eight assists) despite his late-game issues. Joel Embiid finished the night with 23 points and nine rebounds, but he was somewhat inefficient (8-for-19 from the floor) and woefully reckless with the basketball (seven turnovers).
All that aside, here's what matters: The Sixers beat a team they were supposed to beat, even without J.J. Redick (back). To be honest, it is a little surprising that they were able to hit 16 threes without Redick, but that's a testament to ball movement (and a somewhat suspect Mavs' defense). And it's also notable that they won despite the Mavericks shooting better than 51 percent from the field and draining 19 threes on just 40 attempts.
But to borrow a phrase from "Hamilton", Ben Simmons was the story of tonight: Blowing past defenders, crashing the glass for a tip dunk, and even pulling up a couple of times for not-pretty-but-they-in-so-we'll-take-them fadeaway jumpers.
A rematch with Houston is on the horizon for Monday, and the Sixers will need to tighten up their perimeter defense or else they'll get run out of the gym. But until then, let's just enjoy this one.