Joel Embiid was a question mark during warmups due to a sore ankle, but he showed no ill effects of his injury during a 16-point, six-rebound first quarter that ended with the Sixers up 18. And when Embiid (who personally outscored the Pelicans 16-14 in the first 12 minutes) wasn’t having his way with an uninspired New Orleans defense, Ben Simmons (10 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) was blowing past DeAndre Liggins and taking it to the rack.
The Pelicans cut the lead to 10 midway through the second quarter, but the Sixers were able to extend their advantage to 15 at the break. In a scene that was a microcosm for the entire evening, Embiid ended the second quarter by snuffing out a Nikola Mirotic shot at the buzzer. After the block, Embiid (24 points, 16 rebounds in 24 minutes) stood over Mirotic, gave him a little shimmy, and pointed towards the visitors’ locker room.
A remarkable start by the Sixers became more impressive once they closed out the third quarter on a 16-0 run that extended their lead to 32. For the Pelicans (now 1-5 since losing DeMarcus Cousins for the year with an Achilles injury), this was one of those nights where the referees should have instituted a running clock.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fabulous shooting performance by Dario Saric on Friday (24 points on 8-for-11 from the floor and 4-for-5 from deep). Saric’s scoring was especially vital given the fact that the Sixers’ bench only tallied five points over the first three quarters.
Good defense, exceptional rebounding, excellent ball movement... there simply weren’t a lot of negatives for the Sixers against the Pelicans. It’s important to note that no one logged as much as 30 minutes tonight, so the squad should be fresh for tomorrow’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers (who are playing the Detroit Pistons this evening).
Six straight wins at home, eight straight quarters without trailing... times are good in South Philly these days.