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Sixers overcome poor first half for 117-107 win over Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Well, that was a lot closer than it should have been.

The Sixers took on the hospital New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night, in a makeup game that was originally scheduled for December 19.

The Sixers welcomed back Matisse Thybulle to the starting lineup, as they took on a Pelicans squad without Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, and obviously, Zion Williamson.

Joel Embiid continued his MVP-level play with 42 points on 12-of-24 shooting (18-of-20 from the line), 14 rebounds, three assists, and four blocks. Tobias Harris had his best game in a while with 33 points, 11 boards, and a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown. Here are some thoughts and observations on the Sixers’ 117-107 win against the Pelicans.

First half

-A very sluggish start. Willy Hernangomez had 13 first-quarter points, which tells you everything you need to know about how the Sixers defended in the frame. This has been Joel Embiid’s weakest stretch on the defensive end this season, which is likely due to the insane scoring load he’s burdened this month.

-The offense looked asleep to start the game. They struggled when New Orleans threw a zone at them (what else is new), and they were going very deep into the shot clock to generate shots.

-Point Furkan is just not it.

-The only good thing for the Sixers in the first half was Tobias Harris. He was Philly’s only source of scoring for the second quarter, as the rest of the team continued to look sluggish. He had a 15-point quarter, shooting 6-of-9 in the frame, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.

-Willy Hernangomez and Nickeil Alexander-Walker combined for 39 first-half points on 15-of-22 shooting. Not ideal! The Sixers were outscored 34-22 in the paint in the first half, as the defensive effort was nonexistent.

Second Half

-Embiid flipped the switch out of halftime. That feels weird to say when he had 18 in the first half, but he came out of the half with a different energy. He scored the Sixers first 10 points of the third quarter. The Sixers got offensive production from their max guys tonight and nowhere else.

-It was nice to see Doc Rivers let Maxey stay out with the bench unit at the end of the third quarter. The reserves looked hopeless with Korkmaz “running point” in the first half.

-The Andre Drummond experience, summarized in one play.

-Once again a nice job by Harris to give the Sixers some scoring when Embiid was on the bench. He got to his spots quickly and confidently, and also cut very well off the ball. This was easily his best game in a while.

-After three and a half quarters, the Sixers were finally able to create some separation from the hospital Pelicans. The big fella once again took over the fourth quarter. He anchored a previously non-existent defense with four blocks. His 40-point games are becoming the norm, this is truly a historic stretch he is on. He is the first Sixer since Wilt Chamberlain to have four straight games of 35+ points and 10+ rebounds.