It was a tough night for Philly at the Palace sans Joel Embiid, as the Sixers fell, 113-96. But it wasn’t for a lack of entertainment. Detroit had no answer for 21 year-old budding star and national champion Jahlil Okafor despite its frontline’s stifling size.
- Stan Van Gundy struggled to find a reliable matchup for Jahlil Okafor in his toolbox tonight. Any team will have trouble finding a way to completely contain his dynamic scoring, but you have to do your best to fan the flames as best as you can, and the Pistons had no answers. Throw Drummond on him, he’ll field it out of the high-post and face him up. Throw Baynes on him, he’ll post him into oblivion. Give him Leuer, and he’ll make a mockery out of him with an exposé of Malone-ian footwork, surprisingly ineffective ball fakes and acrobatic finishes.
- The loss was certainly a bummer, but Okafor just doesn’t take possessions off. He blocks out all the noise and produces, and efficiently. 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and seven free throw attempts (the accuracy from the line is still a work in progress) is just another night for him. Just a rare breed.
- TJ McConnell got got.
You hate to see it happen to the guy, but it was just one of those nights. To his credit, in incredibly TJ McConnell fashion, he bounced right back up to contest the shot anyway, and walked it off afterwards.
- Stauskas continues to slump. After a reasonably hot month of January during which he converted from downtown at about a 39 percent clip, he’s just 3-of-19 from deep in team’s four February games thus far. 8-of-33 from the field on the aggregate, too, good for a dismal 24 percent. Stauskas is a low-usage player who’s been largely a disaster defending both back-court positions, so for him to stay useful, his threes need to be falling.
- The team now heads back to Philly for a meeting with San Antonio on Wednesday. You have to think Embiid is in play to return for that one, as he stayed back in Philly for the road trip to work with the Sixers staff at the practice facility. We’ll have all the updates you need on that front here in the coming days.