The Sixers capped off the midway point of the 2022-23 season with one of their worst performances to date, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 133-114, Thursday night. It was another 30 and 10 night for Joel Embiid, despite only playing 30 minutes due to foul trouble.
It showed on the defensive end as the Thunder’s 133 points came on 51.2 percent shooting from the field. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way for OKC with 37 points, along with seven boards and five assists.
The Sixers are now 25-16.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- The Sixers got off to a sleepy start that the Thunder were able to take advantage of. They made four of their first five from beyond the arc. Tyrese Maxey drew the original assignment of defending Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but Doc Rivers sent De’Anthony Melton in for the task just four minutes into the game. Thirteen of SGA’s 37 came in the opening frame.
- Even from an objective standpoint, it is a delight to see Maxey back attacking the basket like this.
Tyrese in transition ⚡️ >>> pic.twitter.com/8ocjkMQJG0— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 13, 2023
- After going down 11 points early, Philly’s offense would wake up, as they ended up shooting 54.5 percent from the field in the first quarter. A three ball from Georges Niang during the last few seconds of the frame tied at 35.
- Scary moment as Tobias Harris appeared to collide knees with Isaiah Joe early in the second quarter. Harris did need a trip to the locker room but returned to the game only a couple minutes later.
- Some more rotational weirdness this quarter when Joel Embiid picked up his third foul just 26 seconds into his second shift. Rivers let Embiid play through in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls, but did not want to chance it on the third. With the offense struggling as much as it did in the second quarter, letting your best player play through foul trouble seemed like the right move.
- A small positive from this was that it forced Paul Reed into the game. Reed had an immediate impact, pulling down three offensive rebounds.
- The second quarter was just a disaster for the Sixers. OKC built a double-digit lead with Gilgeous-Alexander sitting on the bench. Tre Mann found a groove, going for nine in the quarter. Meanwhile, the Sixers shot 30 percent in the second as they went into halftime down by 10.
- Whatever adjustment Philly made at the break, it paid immediate dividends. They reeled off a 13-0 run to start the second half to retake the lead, largely fueled by Embiid and Harden.
- The Sixers have really benefitted from Harden taking more catch-and-shoot threes, and he was on tonight. Harden shot 5 of 10 from downtown on the night.
- OKC was able to weather the storm, scoring on eight straight possessions after Philly’s run. The Sixers ran a heavy dose of zone during this stretch, but it did not seem to fool the Thunder in the slightest. One inhuman block from Embiid aside, the defensive effort was nonexistent. The Thunder ended the third quarter on a 30-10 run, giving them a 16-point lead.
- Philly was finally able to cobble some stops together. They held the Thunder to just two points over a four-minute span as they chipped away at the lead. Embiid led this charge, with 12 of his 30 coming in the final quarter. It was too little, too late, as the Sixers were only able to trim the lead down to six.
- The Sixers will have to put this one behind them on the road, as they start a five-game road trip, starting this Saturday against the Utah Jazz.