It’s a sweep!
The Sixers capped off a perfect 7-0 homestead by taking down the L.A. Clippers, 119-114, Friday night. The star power was on display as 44 points from Joel Embiid and 21 assists from James Harden were enough to overcome a Clippers team that led by as many as 20 points.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- A hot start for the Clippers, as they opened the game shooting 61 percent from the field on their way to a 33-point first quarter. Kawhi Leonard started it off by making his first four shots from the field. Paul George got it going as well, putting up 12 of his 22 in the opening frame as the Clippers took a nine-point lead.
- Joel Embiid went blow-for-blow at the start, going 7 of 9 from the field in the first. The Clippers are a good matchup for him, with Ivica Zubac being the only center with size on the roster, and he was certainly in a rhythm early.
- Things got ugly when the all-bench unit checked in and it didn’t get better from there. They really struggled to grab a rebound with Montrezl Harrell on the floor. This wasn’t all the second unit’s fault, as the offensive flow didn’t return to the game with the starters, Philly went over four minutes without a field goal.
- The Clippers on the other hand, got whatever they wanted offensively. They went into the break still over 60 percent from the field and a scorching 52 percent from downtown.
- Despite being outplayed for most of the half, a 13-5 run to end the half kept Philly in it. The Clippers’ lead grew as large as 20 but only went into halftime up by 12.
- The second half started just as the first one did, with Embiid and Leonard dueling from the midrange. Another onslaught from Kawhi helped push the Clippers’ lead back up to 14. Leonard’s performance really made it feel like 2019 again.
- The rest of the Clippers finally missed some shots as the Sixers went on a 23-8 run to completely erase the deficit. The Clippers had their hands full with Embiid all night, as he had 32 through three quarters.
- It was also another excellent night in terms of playmaking for James Harden, who had a career-high 21 assists, which also tied the franchise record for most assists in a game. He struggled again early trying to score the ball, especially from inside the arc, but he more than made up for it in getting his teammates open. Harden would finish with 20-10-21, good for his 70th (I think that’s the number they said on the broadcast) career triple-double.
- Props to Doc Rivers for going with Paul Reed after Harrell was overmatched in the first half. His block on Norm Powell led to a momentum three that gave the Sixers their largest lead of the night.
- Speaking of the bench, Shake Milton must really like playing the Clippers. Eleven of his 13 points came during Philly’s run to end the third quarter/start the fourth. This is easily the most comfortable Milton has looked with another ball handler on the floor during his NBA career.
- It was a complete team effort in what might be their best win of the season. Leonard checked back into the game halfway through the fourth and promptly erased an eight-point Sixers lead, but just about everybody pitched in to get the lead right back. Embiid put a capper on another 40-point night, Tobias hit a clutch three and played stellar defense on Leonard down the stretch, and De’Anthony Melton’s three with two minutes left put it out of reach.
- The Sixers will kick off the 2022 NBA Christmas action when they head to Madison Square Garden at 12 p.m.