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Embiid-less Sixers look mighty tired in road loss to red-hot T-Wolves

Coming off an overtime loss at home less than 24 hours ago, the Sixers — without Joel Embiid — stood little chance against the surging Timberwolves.

Philadelphia 76ers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

That’s just about the definition of a schedule loss.

The Sixers dropped their second game in a row, falling 112-99 the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves as Joel Embiid sat with left hip soreness.

Anthony Edwards continued his roaring start, putting up 31 points along with six boards and five assists.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 and 10, while Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton and Marcus Morris Sr. all led the Sixers with 16 points apiece.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Starting Marcus Morris Sr. as a small-ball five went about as well as expected. Both Morris and Nico Batum were sent to the bench with two fouls within the first four minutes of the game. Edwards carved up the small-ball lineup, forcing Philly into zone for much of the quarter.
  • Paul Reed came in the game and immediately blocked a couple of shots and grabbed three offensive rebounds, almost like he should have started!
  • Minnesota sat in a zone for much of the quarter themselves, and the Embiid-less offense was able to generate nothing. Their only hope at scoring was Maxey making something off the dribble, and that was abundantly clear when him and Harris both went to the bench at the end of the quarter. Patrick Beverley got away with the most obvious backcourt ever, then proceeded to throw a “pass” off the backboard to no one in particular. The Sixers trailed by 17 after the first.

Second Quarter

  • Philly made a run to start the quarter to get themselves back in the game, thanks in large part to energy minutes from Reed. He opened the second by finishing a pick-and-roll from Maxey, then forced a fast break with a steal a couple possessions later. The Timberwolves were held to just two points over the first five minutes of the quarter.
  • If De’Anthony Melton is going be horrendous at making layups, at least he’s getting better at drawing contact. Twice he challenged Gobert and both times he was rewarded with a trip to the line. He took eight free throws in the half, and is averaging a a career high 2.3 free throw attempts per game this year.
  • After a first quarter of getting stuffed at the rim, Harris found a rhythm in the second. Tonight was one of those nights where the Sixers actually needed some of his long isolations that end in 14 footers. Nine of his 13 first-half points came in the second.
  • For as much (probably fair) criticism as the decision to start Morris got, his minutes in the second were surprisingly fine. He knocked down a couple of jumpers and wasn’t a complete disaster on defense. The Sixers went into the break down by eight.

Third Quarter

  • This was always going to be the Marcus Morris game one way or another. He opened the half by knocking down a three and stayed hot for some time. He finished with 11 third-quarter points, but that momentum was halted when he picked up his fourth foul halfway through the frame.
  • Unfortunately for the Sixers, Edwards was going basket-for-basket with Morris which actually helped Minnesota extend their lead during this stretch. Philly didn’t necessarily do a bad job staying in front him, he was just burying tough shots all night.
  • While the Sixers’ momentum died when Morris went to the bench, Minnesota still had Edwards to keep things rolling. The whole team looked tired but Maxey seemed especially worn down given the burden that was on him tonight. The Timberwolves held a 12-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter

  • Whatever little gas Philly had left was unsurprisingly gone by the time the final quarter rolled around. Towns and Gobert were able to get whatever they wanted at the rim while the Sixers’ offense could no longer keep themselves within striking distance.
  • It’s a little impressive that Robert Covington played nearly 20 minutes of a game the Sixers trailed the entire time, and managed to end with a +6.
  • With the In-Season Tournament mostly wrapped up, the Sixers schedule will finally spread out a bit. They’ll be in action again Saturday evening when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder at 5 p.m. ET.

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