Heading into Tuesday’s 133-132 overtime loss to the Pistons, the biggest story was Philadelphia deciding to start Landry Shamet at the two, putting a Shamet and Markelle Fultz backcourt on the floor due to Ben Simmons (back) missing the game.
But by the end, the main story had changed. Blake Griffin, y’all. The Sixers (2-2) mostly had no answer for Griffin all night, who ended up scoring 50 points, including the go-ahead free throw in overtime. (He missed his first six free throw attempts, then made his final five.)
Philadelphia missed Simmons a lot in this one, but Joel Embiid did a lot to try to make the victory happen, scoring 33 points on 55 percent shooting, making 11 of his 14 free throws, pulling down 11 rebounds, recording seven assists...but it was all for naught in the end because Blake Griffin...Blake Griffin.
How did we end up there? Here’s some quick quarter-by-quarter thoughts:
In the first quarter, the Sixers were forced to survive the extended absence of Joel Embiid, who picked up a pair of early fouls. There were concerns about the team being without Embiid and Simmons for that long a stretch, but Amir Johnson gave Philly some good minutes, and the Sixers managed to carry a one-point lead into the second quarter.
Markelle Fultz made a three in the second quarter! That was a highlight of the first half, but Blake Griffin with 28 points despite missing six free throws was not a highlight. Still, the Sixers led 64-61 at halftime.
That lead was pushed to seven by the start of the fourth quarter as Griffin stopped being the dominant force that he was earlier. Robert Covington had eight in the quarter to help push the 76ers further in front.
But issues on both ends of the floor reared their heads in the fourth quarter as the Pistons stormed back into it. Some good defensive plays by Embiid and a clutch stop by Dario Saric gave the Sixers a chance to win it in regulation, but the team missed threes on both ends of a 2-for-1. (But Embiid did bate Andre Drummond into getting ejected!)
But Griffin and Ish Smith hitting back-to-back threes to put Detroit up six in overtime made things tough on the Sixers. Philadelphia clawed back, taking a two-point lead after a weird series of events — a frustration foul by Redick, who appeared to not realize the team was over the limit, followed by a four-point play by Redick after the Detroit free throws. But Robert Covington fouled Griffin as he drove to the basket. The shot went in, the Pistons went up one, and that was it. A contested three at the buzzer by Embiid didn’t have a chance.
The Sixers won’t have any time off between this one and their next game, as the road trip continues with a trip to Milwaukee tomorrow night. Tip is at 9:30 EST, so get your rest in early! Will Ben Simmons return? Will the Sixers be too physically exhausted from tonight’s loss to compete with a good Bucks team? Will Markelle Fultz get some more minutes — he put up good numbers, but played just 20 minutes as Brett Brown seemed content to not expand his playing time with Simmons out?