Sixers Bell Ringer regular season standings:
Joel Embiid: 24
Tyrese Maxey: 11
Seth Curry: 8
Tobias Harris: 4
Andre Drummond: 3
Matisse Thybulle: 2
Furkan Korkmaz: 1
Charles Bassey: 1
James Harden landed in New York, the NBA’s biggest market, flanked by a pair of championship-caliber future Hall of Famers. Then he said “you know what, I’d rather Philly Philly.” While Sixers Nation tried to catch its collective breath from a wild NBA Trade Deadline following an unbelievable, book-worthy stalemate, the team had a game to play.
And while The Beard wasn’t ready to make his debut, there was some added juice in the arena this Friday night when Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and co. hosted Lu Dort, Derrick Favors and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now let’s figure out for whom tonight’s bell tolls.
Joel Embiid: 25 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks in 35 minutes
At one point Joel Embiid’s night looked finished. With just over eight minutes remaining the team held an 18-point advantage and it seemed as if Embiid might escape on the first of the weekend’s back-to-back set having logged just 29 minutes. But the Thunder made a run and the big fella had to resume Operation Domination.
Embiid cratered the Thunder’s front court on both ends, he was an enormous deterrent to Thunder drivers.
Joel garnered some MVP chants when he went to the free throw line late in this one. Joel now has 25 or more points in 22 consecutive games.
That’s what a 2022 league MVP looks like.
As Kate Scott said, a 7-foot-2 guard going coast-to-coast.
Tyrese Maxey: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 of 4 from 3, 4 of 5 from the stripe, game high +20 plus-minus
Tyrese Maxey was questionable coming into this one with hamstring tightness, but he not only suited up, he put turbo-charged wheels on display:
Tyrese has wheels! (but we already knew that) pic.twitter.com/lamE52nQ55— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 12, 2022
Careening towards the Rising Stars game at All-Star Break, Maxey reminded fans how incredibly lucky they are that Daryl Morey, Elton Brand and company a) had a pick in 2020 because of a wacky Mike Muscala bubble-game winning three b) landed him 21st overall in that draft, c) didn’t have to trade him away to land a player of James Harden’s caliber on Thursday.
On Friday, Maxey had a wintry mix of some ice-cold crunch time step backs, high-level pull-ups, and a few impressive full-speed-ahead finishes.
Here was a fun sequence:
Tisse: clamps— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 12, 2022
Rese: three pic.twitter.com/CXaQMX6RMO
Plays like that above show just how comfortable Maxey is becoming shooting from distance. No one would have begrudged him from attacking the paint but he had his eyes on the extra point. So analytically savvy.
Maxey has struggled at times this season to have a big game when Embiid is in the lineup and dominating the opponent. But Maxey struck a mature balance of deference and attack-mode here.
He also drained a pull-up three using a ginormous Embiid pick to get just a bit of room. You need a little extra arc to nail one with Joel standing right in front of you but maybe that extra arc helped.
Matisse Thybulle: 10 points, 3 steals, 3 rebounds
It’s only right that we got Matisse Thybulle’s name on this list. The Sixers won this game with defense, holding the Thunder to 87 total points. Matisse had some of his signature steals, at one point on back-to-back possessions.
Sixers fans know the Frosty Freeze out where fans get a milkshake if an opponent misses a pair of consecutive free throws in the second half of a home game.
Well, did you know that when Doc Rivers was the point guard of the New York Knicks back in the day, Madison Square Garden used to give a free slice of pizza when the Knicks held opponents to under 85 points in a game?
The sellout crowd (19,763) saved its most intense cheering for the finish. When Darnell Mee missed two free throws with 5.1 seconds to play, the crowd roared in delight. But after the game, the Knicks announced that this was the last night for the under 85-point promotion, which has become a distraction. The players were glad.
“It could come back to haunt us,” said Doc Rivers, the Knicks’ point guard. “When we come to Denver, if I was the coach, I’d bring in a pizza before the game and say, ‘This is what they played for.’ “
The Sixers didn’t hold the Thunder to less than 85 but Doc might be the first to tell us that holding a team to 87 in 2022 is even more impressive given the game’s evolution over time. Thybulle had plenty to do with that in this one.
Wonder if an opposing coach ever brought in a Frosty and said “see, ‘this is what they played for!’
Tobias Harris: 17 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 2 of 3 from deep
Harris had a big all around game, and he’s one of three players (along with Paul Reed and Joel Embiid) to notch at least two blocks. This game was a block party and Harris was in on it.
Arguably more satisfying than his final stat line, or the simple fact that he’s now playing at a high-level on a consistent basis, Harris helped snuff out a creepy Thunder run late in this ball game.
After building an 18 point lead with 8:33 left, an all-too familiar thing happened. An ugly four-plus minute scoring drought drifted into the chilly arena and allowed the Thunder to rattle off a 16-3 run. That cut the Sixers’ lead down to 6 with minutes to go. The building got nervous but it was Harris who provided some relief by draining a big three, then corralling a loose ball for a steal before hitting Maxey with the outlet, who went on to lay in a game-sealing deuce.
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