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Mavs couldn’t miss, Sixers’ comeback effort is too little, too late

The combination of poor defense and ridiculous Mavs shooting led to a brutal loss for the Sixers.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers split their back-to-back, falling 133-126 to the scalding hot Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night. Philly brought some firepower of its own, as Joel Embiid dropped 35 points and Tyrese Maxey returned to the starting lineup with 29. But it wasn’t enough to overcome 40-point nights from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First quarter

  • A second starting lineup has appeared! With Joel Embiid returning after a one-game hiatus, Doc Rivers went back to his opening night starting five, opting for Tyrese Maxey over De’Anthony Melton.
  • Maxey sure did have his hands full from the start, as it took Kyrie Irving just a few minutes to get into double-digits. A quick Melton substitution made little difference, as Dallas shot 8 of 11 from three in the first.
  • Just like last night, there was little defense to begin this one, as both teams started the game shooting over 60 percent from the field. James Harden kept pace with Luka Doncic’s 17-point first with 16 points and seven assists of his own, as the Sixers trailed by a point after one.

Second quarter

  • After not playing in Miami, Georges Niang was back in the rotation, but he was 0-of-2 from three in the first half. Montrezl Harrell also made his first appearance in weeks, which didn’t go as poorly as it could have. Harrell was a plus-two in 2:48 and missed a runner that just grazed the rim.
  • Another Sixer who has struggled offensively as of late is De’Anthony Melton. After a scoreless first, Melton came alive for 12 points in the second.

The second unit felt more dynamic with both Maxey and Melton on the floor at the same time.

  • Melton did not fair any better defensively than Maxey did, but there wasn’t much defense to speak of. For the Sixers, Harden, Embiid, Harris and Maxey were all in double figures at the break. Luka and Kyrie combined for 45 points themselves in the first half and the Mavs held a four-point lead at the break.

Third quarter

  • A new half, but pretty much the same story for Dallas, which started the half on a 20-4 run to take its largest lead of the night. Philly had no answers defensively for the Irving-Doncic combo, so opening he half on 2-of-8 shooting all but buried them.
  • The Sixers were far from perfect schematically on the defensive end of the floor, but when a team is as hot as the Mavs were tonight sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Through three quarters, Dallas shot 59 percent from the floor and 21-of-39 from three. The Sixers scored 91 (!!) points through three quarters and still trailed by 19.

Fourth quarter

  • As the final quarter started, Rivers trotted out lineup that wasn’t exactly waiving the white flag, but it wasn’t his standard lineup for this spot in the game. A group of Maxey plus the bench guys put together a 17-0 run to get them right back in the game.
  • Rivers probably left that bench unit out there a bit too long, as Luka pushed the lead back up to nine before Embiid returned to the game. The starters had a mini-run in them, cutting it to as little as five with 31 seconds left, but that was as close as they would get.
  • The Sixers will have another chance on primetime, as their next matchup is Saturday night against the Bucks at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

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