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Embiid returns (with a new look!), Harden had another triple-double in blowout

Joel Embiid scored 36 in his first game back and James Harden had his second straight triple-double as the Sixers obliterated the Pistons Tuesday.

Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sixers swept their home-and-home against the Detroit Pistons when they rolled to a 147-116 victory Tuesday night.

It was only the seventh time all season that Philly’s opening night starting five took the court, as Joel Embiid (sporting a new look) and P.J. Tucker made their return to the starting lineup. It was the group’s first game starting together since October 29. The win improves the Sixers to 25-15 on the season.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • I cannot remember the last time we saw an extended matchup between Joel Embiid and his old friend Nerlens Noel. We got that tonight, with Noel getting a spot start after Isaiah Stewart was scratched. Noel held up fairly well to start, stripping Embiid on his first touch and drawing a charge a few possessions later.
  • That did not step Embiid from getting his, however. He found his stroke with the midrange early, putting up a nine-point first quarter. James Harden was once again chasing a triple-double early, with 7-5-5 in the first as the Sixers were in cruise control. They led the entire quarter, but seven turnovers helped Detroit keep it a seven-point game after one.
  • If there is one team you can get away with an all-bench lineup against, it is probably these Detroit Pistons, although it only saw a minute and a half of action in the opening frame.

Second Quarter

  • It wasn’t a pretty stretch by the bench unit and Maxey, but sometimes just being Tyrese Maxey is enough. The Sixers continued to give the ball away, as well as lacking rhythm and flow with their offense. Maxey alleviated this with a seven-point scoring burst to open the second.
  • This Pistons team is just a bummer to watch with all of their injuries. Other than Noel, their tallest player to take the court in the first half was Saddiq Bey. Not surprisingly then, Detroit got absolutely slaughtered on the glass, 32-14 in the first half. They were held scoreless for over four and a half minutes. Philly turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and still took a 22-point lead into the break.

Third Quarter

  • It took him slightly more time than it did on Sunday, but Harden had another triple-double early in the third quarter. Harden finished with 16-12-15 on the night. Halfway through the third was also when Embiid scored his 30th point for the 20th time this season. Embiid finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes of play.
  • Tyrese Maxey continued to put on a show as the second half got underway, with his first three baskets of the half resulting in and-ones. He looks more and more comfortable with each game that passes.
  • This was such a laugher that Philly started pulling their starters with time left in the third quarter. Both Embiid and Harden were done for the day with three minutes to go in the third. Per SixersStats, the 42 points Philly scored in the quarter was their highest scoring quarter of the season.

Fourth Quarter

  • For the first time of 2023, we saw some Jaden Springer. The 2021 first-rounder gave the crowd something to cheer for in the fourth, when he grabbed a putback dunk and started a fast break off his own steal.
  • All of the referees tonight should lose their whistle privileges for how many fouls they called during the fourth quarter. No exceptions.
  • The Sixers can stretch this into a three-game winning streak when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night at 7 p.m.

You can listen to Jas Kang’s podcast recap below:

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