For what seems like the 37th time this year, the 76ers went up against the
Charlotte Hornets Detroit Pistons. In a classic home-and-home, the Embiid-less Sixers eeked out a gritty win up in Detroit for the first of the two contests. Would they cruise to an easy win against a Griffin-less Pistons?
Oh, do I have a story for you!
First, let’s talk about that first quarter. Without Blake Griffin to defend for the Pistons, Ben Simmons was an unstoppable onslaught rolling to the basket. Neither Jon Leuer nor Henry Ellenson provided much resistant. Only blemish in that first half for young Ben was some horrid shooting at the charity stripe.
The second quarter featured the typical “The 76ers forgot how to play basketball” ennui and a 15 point lead evaporated into 3. Coinciding with the scoring drought was Jimmy Butler leaving the game with a groin strain and Joel Embiid on the bench. The Sixers, however, were able to extend the lead back up to 9 heading into halftime once JoJo got back into the game.
With Butler down, the 76ers were left with 8 rotation guys and only Amir Johnson and Shake Milton as their reinforcements. Thankfully, a quiet Embiid woke up in the third quarter and, along with some key bench minutes from TJ McConnell and Furkan Korkmaz, kept the Sixers afloat to an 11 point lead by the third quarters end.
The 4th quarter was a microcosm of why the 76ers were able to come away with the victory tonight. Much like the third quarter, it was the bench that came to the rescue and carried the team to a victory. The effort plays and shooting by Landry Shamet and Korkmaz really gave the team a boost. Add a dash of Ballin’ Ben doing a little bit of everything and it was a recipe for success as the 76ers were able to comfortably close out the game.
Guess what, folks? No more Detroit Pistons for the rest of the regular season.
Odds & Ends
- The bench was sensational tonight. The Kork was popped and it was a Furkan good game. 18 points on 7/12 shooting (4/7 beyond the arc). With Butler down, Korkmaz absorbed all of his minutes and did not disappoint. It’s unfortunate that it took the 76ers not picking up his option for something to click within him. Regardless of where his future, in the short-term, the 76ers need this type of player and performance in their rotation.
- Landry Shamet made a ton of effort plays tonight. While the 3/7 beyond the arc is nice, it was his fighting for rebounds and defense that helped the 76ers at the critical junctures of the game. Hustle plays like that gave the team extra possessions and points. What a find for GM Collaborative effort.
- TJ McConnell did a bunch of good stuff tonight but I’d rather just highlight this image because it’s glorious.
TJ McConnell throwing up the W for Wilson Chandler after he hit from deep. pic.twitter.com/vZDQ8FBXpB— Stew (@StewyHoops) December 11, 2018
- Ben Simmons. He’s great. 18 points, 10 boards, 7 assists. Ho-hum. Minor quibble is that he was 2-9 at the charity stripe.
- Luke Kennard was annoyingly good tonight with 28 points, shooting 5/8 beyond the arc. Goodbye.
- After playing 9 minutes on the night, Jimmy Butler went down with a groin injury. As of now, there are no updates on the severity and the timeline of recovery. An already thin team is now down another wing player. Brett Brown has to yet again juggle a short rotation which is now down to 9 healthy bodies.
- Well, sometimes you don’t always win the game within the game. Andre Drummond had a pretty good night statistically and managed to get the better of JoJo numerous times on both ends. Good job by Drummond stepping up as I’m sure he’s a bit tired of being a punchline. 21 points and 17 boards on the night.
- On the other end, Joel Hans had a somewhat mixed night. For most of it, he still looked a bit listless, struggling on both ends. That said, you look at the box score and somehow he ends the night with a +30 with 24 pts/8 boards/4 Stocks. Maybe he’s just overthinking things now or maybe he bought a little too much into the Drummond match-up? In his post-game presser, Brett mentioned that Joel had been experience ‘flu-like’ symptoms and wasn’t sure that he’d even play tonight. Maybe that explains it? Whatever the case, glad the big guy is back and hopefully this gets him out of his funk.
- 76ers are now 19-9, which still feels unreal. Next up are the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday at 7pm.
- UPDATE: I can not believe I missed this but with Covington now gone, the Frosty Freeze Out needed a new hype man. Enter Shake Milton. Early reviews?
T.J. McConnell says with Covington gone, it’s “next man up mentality” with Shake Milton taking over Frosty Freeze Out duties. But he’s a critic — says Shake’s performance was a little underwhelming tonight— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) December 11, 2018