The first quarter was dominated by the play of Sixers big man Joel Embiid. He led both teams with seven points and was routinely making plays that the Sixers missed in their loss against the Magic. Besides Embiid, another Sixer making his presence felt was Tobias Harris, something that was much needed. It is no secret that the small forward has struggled in the last few games, whether that is because of a reported virus or just a lack of confidence remains to be seen, but he came out firing in the first quarter. Making his first 3-point attempt and breaking an 0-for-23 shooting streak, he ended the quarter with seven points to help give the team a 29-24 lead.
The second quarter got ugly, and when I say ugly I mean REAAALLY ugly. The Sixers didn’t spontaneously combust, but it felt like all the good things they were doing went straight out the window. Ben Simmons continued to be invisible, Al Horford tried to break his cold spell but wasn’t able to create with any consistency, and the offense as a whole felt extremely disjointed. All of this came together, and as a result, the Sixers headed into halftime trailing 54-49.
It’s going to take some time for the team to gel, but far too often, the Sixers are playing down to their competition. Only getting to the free throw line six times in the first half when playing a much smaller team and having several giants in your own starting lineup is not ideal.
Whatever Brett Brown said in the locker room at halftime worked, because the Sixers looked angry in the third quarter. Ben Simmons was aggressive every chance he got and the team outworked the Thunder on the boards, often creating second-chance opportunities. Josh Richardson continued his quiet dominance, both finishing around the rim and continuing to be a threat from the outside. He ended the quarter as the Sixers’ new leading scorer with 20 points, and the re-energized group from Philadelphia took back the lead heading into the final frame, 83-80.
For much of the fourth quarter, the Sixers were just trying to keep the Thunder at arms-length. They had the opportunity to put them away several times, and yet, in the biggest moments of the game, Oklahoma City was right in it with them. Late in the quarter with both teams trading big shots, Embiid made a 3-pointer to tie the game and Josh Richardson sunk two at the free throw line to make sure the team had a chance to win it late. Embiid wasn’t able to hit a last-second jumper and the game headed to overtime.
With three big players in Simmons, Harris, and Richardson all with five fouls heading into the extra period, the Sixers were at a clear disadvantage. Then, Tony Brothers called about the tenth soft foul on Tobias Harris in just this game alone and momentum completely swung in favor of the Thunder. Offensive ineptitude and the defensive inability of Furkan Korkmaz let the Sixers down as Kork’s man on each defensive possession roasted him to the tune of a 9-0 run. Danilo Gallinari played the role of Sixers killer tonight, scoring seven points in overtime and 28 on the night.
When all was said and done the Thunder beat the Sixers 127-119, outscoring them 20-12 in overtime. Another sloppy, winnable game on the road, as many of them seem to be, goes by the wayside. Losing the last two on the road, the Sixers will have to regroup against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Sunday.