J.J. Redick witnessed his teammates receiving praise and acknowledgment for the offensive performances prior to Friday night's game against the Indiana Pacers. When Brett Brown sought a scoring option, with Joel Embiid struggling and the Sixers watching Indiana possibly pull out a victory, the team's premier free agent signee emphatically answered the call in the team's 121-110 victory.
Redick helped orchestrate the Sixers' 65-point second half scoring performance to foil a Pacers team who kept within reach throughout. With Domantas Sabonis tying the game at 110 on a two-point jumper with 2:22 to go, Redick took it upon himself to carry the scoring responsibilities while tapping into his role as a capable shooter who's relatively unaffected by contests. Ben Simmons used a swing pass with Redick trickling to the top of the key with space and Redick timely nailed the three. The pass led to Simmons' second career triple-double and the momentum evidently swung into the Sixers' favor.
When Joel Embiid botched a potentially time-bending dunk, Simmons blocked Oladipo on the other end. Philadelphia didn't respond with the optimal look on the other end up just three with over a minute to go, but Redick's veteran instinct kicked in. He received a dribble handoff from Embiid and maneuvered around the perimeter to create space. Miraculously, you almost expected an off-balance Redick to come up with the made three off of the fadeaway and the shooting weapon delivered. Redick motioned to the lively crowd with pure adrenaline. His final three, a stationary attempt from a Simmons' dish, looked rather seamless.
Redick's 31 points came exclusively from jump shots and compliments of teammates such as Simmons and T.J. McConnell, among others, Redick's scalding shooting (11-19 FG, 8-of-12 3PFG) had meaning. He looked capable from the baseline, top of the key, shooting off of screens, shooting off of the dribble, the whole kitchen sink. Tonight was J.J. Redick's official debut; a statement performance following a tepid start on his new team.
Redick's shooting outburst came on the night of Simmons' second triple-double (14 PTS, 11 REB, 11 AST). Simmons finished just 5-of-13 from the floor, missing some baseline looks and attempts heading towards the basket, but his value in other areas boosted Redick's efforts as well as his teammates'. Simmons went 4-for-4 from the free throw line and torched Bojan Bogdonavic on a iso attack with a behind-the-back dribble into a right-hand layup - necessary to mention. Sixers players seemed hesitant at times to pull in rebounds giving Simmons' 11 boards some meaning. Also, limiting Indiana's second chances, given their shooting efficiency in the paint, helped in situations.
Setting up shooters for efficient jumpers created more opportune looks for Redick, Robert Covington and Dario Saric. He also eased Joel Embiid, despite the big man's indecisiveness in the post and failing to finish the alley-oop. Simmons' block on Victor Oladipo after Embiid's missed dunk arguably swung the momentum pendulum in the Sixers' favor, which led to Redick's fallaway three to go up six.
Victor Oladipo could be for real and is capitalizing on the opportunity starring for Nate McMillan's Pacers. Oladipo was a legitimate scoring threat from all three areas and finished his night with 31 points, five rebounds, and seven assists.
Philadelphia's own breakout wing, Robert Covington, posted another outing where his impact played out on both ends. Covington pinned Bogdonavic's shot and finished alley-oop on other end in the first half. Covington hit a three in rhythm, contested threes, and an open top-of-the-key three. Efficiency and ability to defend multiple players tonight helped Covington stick on the floor, which is becoming a constant for the two-way wing.
Nate McMillan threw Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and a host of help defenders to stymie Embiid and the formula paid off in the first half. Embiid missed a dunk and Saric came in for a put-back dunk, Embiid missed a baseline jumper and he stagnated on the block. He endured the turnover bug again (six) and had to sit for most of the third with four fouls. Richaun Holmes received the look from Brett Brown, his first regular season appearance, and within one minute finished a put-back dunk. He missed an ugly three and a mid-range jumper but had plus effort and poured out energy. He finished Bayless' missed layup after a second and third jump. Holmes dove on the floor to create a second possession for his team and set consistently rough screens to carve out space for his shooters. He had six points and five rebounds. Amir Johnson blocked Sabonis, who was able to lay in second attempt, had a put-back dunk, an O-Board back to Redick for a three and blocked Turner. In 10 minutes, Johnson churned out a lunchpail performance.
Jerryd Bayless' fluctuating hot/cold games led to a "cold" outing tonight. He fouled Oladipo on a three, continued to struggle containing off the dribble and went 0-for-3 from deep while getting his shot blocked a couple of times.
Timothe Luwawau-Cabarrot stalled the Pacers' first serious run, taking a 37-30 lead after the Sixers' early advantage, with two timely threes and providing some juice off of the bench. He finished with six points on 2-of-5 shooting. After that vital contribution, however, TLC encountered problems on both ends of the floor. He didn't transform into a slasher, often settling, and provided no support defensively as Indiana's guards had a field day.
The 5-4 Sixers travel to Utah to face the Jazz Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET.