They’re back in the win column, but that probably wasn’t enough for the point differential.
The Sixers improved to 2-1 in In-Season Tournament group play by knocking off the Atlanta Hawks 126-116 Friday night.
Joel Embiid bounced back with a near triple-double, putting up 32 points along with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Tobias Harris put up a season-high 29 points, shooting 12-of-20 from the field and grabbing 10 rebounds of his own.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Embiid certainly did a good job of finding his teammates early. He sat at the left elbow and let Atlanta defenders come at him while his teammates worked their way open. Once he felt comfortable he decided to throw a behind-the-back bounce pass to Robert Covington in the corner.
- For the first time this week, Maxey went to the bench and the offense didn’t become a complete disaster. Embiid’s early assists bought him space to settle into some jumpers as it didn’t take long for him to become the game’s leading scorer.
- People love to tune into the NBA to see offensive goaltending being called. That happened on back-to-back plays to Jaden Springer and Onyeka Okongwu late in the quarter. This has felt like the most over-officiated season so far and it’s mid-November. Philly led by six after the opening quarter.
- Some disastrous minutes were coming as the Hawks ripped off a 12-0 run to start the quarter. It wasn’t a quick run, as the Sixers’ offense could just get nothing going. Maxey had another quiet start, going over four minutes into the second before his first made field goal.
- This hasn’t been the case for much of this season, but Maxey looked much more freed up with Embiid back on the court. Embiid’s gravity allowed him to rid himself of Dejounte Murray easier, and he finished with a 12-point quarter.
- It was odd to see Covington score 10 points but go 0-of-5 from three on Wednesday, His first half stat line was much more like himself. He had a couple of steals, a block, grabbed six rebounds and knocked down a pair of threes. His work on the glass really kept the team alive late in the quarter, as they went into the break with a one-point lead.
- The Sixers tried to open the half spamming actions between Embiid and Maxey, but Atlanta was ready for it. Jalen Johnson sat guarding the dunker spot ready to double team immediately. Johnson’s been great since playing his way into the Hawks’ starting lineup. Tonight was no different, as he finished with 18 points, 10 boards, and three blocks.
- Philly’s offense was painfully plodding to start the quarter. They couldn’t get the ball in-bounded in five seconds and took a shot-clock violation within quick succession of each other.
- Once some bench guys sprinkled in, the offense got moving a bit, though Maxey also played the entire third like Embiid normally does. Danuel House, Jr. had some really solid minutes for the first time this season, cutting for Embiid and knocking down a corner three. The Sixers held a five-point lead after three.
- Jaden Springer seems to already have a reputation whistle because of how hard he plays and how aggressive he is on defense. Paul Reed had a similar issue when he was younger, getting called for fouls for just beating guys to a spot.
- Both Maxey and Embiid playing the whole third meant the Sixers had to start the fourth with both guys on the bench. It was the first significant stretch of such this year, but Tobias Harris and crew were more than up for the task. Harris finished off another crazy energy burst from House with a corner three of his own. The team was so excited the bench got a delay of game technical for celebrating.
- How about Jaden Springer closing the game out with the starters? He wasn’t perfect tonight, but continued to show encouraging signs. It felt like it took him all night but he finally finished a back cut from Embiid, through contact as well.
- The Sixers next contest will be in Brooklyn when they take on the Nets Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.