So, that’s the weirdest blowout win ever, right?
The Sixers bounced back by throttling the Chicago Bulls 116-91 Wednesday night. Joel Embiid put up just 12 points, before sitting the entire second half due to “score differential” and a reported right calf strain.
His teammates made sure it was no problem as De’Anthony Melton had a game-high 25 points along with four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Tyrese Maxey scored 21 points and shot 4 of 8 from downtown, and Tobias Harris nearly had a triple-double with 20 points, nine boards and eight assists.
The Sixers were without James Harden, who’s been dealing with Achilles soreness since Monday, as well as Jalen McDaniels, who has not looked right since his hip injury. They did welcome P.J. Tucker back to the lineup after missing the last two games with ankle soreness.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- The start of this one was a sharp contrast to Monday’s game — at least for the Sixers as they scored the first 17 points. Chicago burned two timeouts within the first three and a half minutes of the game.
- The only resistance Philly got was when Tobias Harris took an errant elbow to the jaw from Embiid as the two went up for a rebound. Aside from that, they shot 58 percent in the opening quarter on their way to a 36-point first quarter. Embiid looked like he was playing with his food early.
- The Bulls on the other hand, took some time to get going. It took them over four minutes to record their first field goal, allowing the Sixers to get a 20-point lead at a ridiculously early stage of the game. They reeled off a 10-0 run towards the end of the quarter to make the score more respectable. The Sixers held a 13-point lead after the first.
- Shake Milton’s minutes have been inconsistent as of late, but he really has made the most of the time he’s been given. Tonight, he finished a possession kept alive by Paul Reed with an and-one, and made this stellar skip pass to Georges Niang in the corner.
- While Chicago picked up momentum as the first was ending, the minutes that Embiid sat went off without a hitch for the Sixers. Maxey and Harris carried the load offensively. Maxey led all scorers at the break with 16 points. Harris had 15.
- Paul Reed had some real solid minutes, pulling down two offensive rebounds and a clean block that was unfortunately called a goaltend.
- When P.J. Tucker checked back into the game and knocked down a couple of jumpers, it meant that all nine Sixers who played scored in the first half. They shot a scorching 55 percent from three as the team’s ball movement was some of the best it’s been all season. Embiid recorded seven assists as the Sixers led by 28 at halftime.
- Strangely enough, Embiid was still in the locker room as the second half started, leaving Reed to start the third quarter in his place.
- The Embiid situation only seemed to escalate when Chicago lost a key player as well. DeMar DeRozan left the game with a quad issue, making the radio silence on Embiid all the more bizarre.
- The big fella was finally ruled out with two minutes left, and the Sixers broadcast said it was due to the score differential. Even with the Sixers still in control, the reasoning felt weird, given that Embiid has stayed on the bench in the games he’s been able to take off early. The Bulls went on a 20-6 run towards the end of the quarter, but still trailed by 20 after three.
- The Sixers didn’t end the third with tons of momentum, and the fourth begun that way as they only made one of their first eight shots of the quarter, giving the game an eerie feeling that it wasn't quite over. A De’Anthony Melton steal into an and-one ended the Bulls for good, and he followed it up on the next possession with another steal and a lob to Reed.
- And this late update. Apparently it wasn’t just because of the score:
The Sixers say Joel Embiid, who didn’t play in the second half of tonight’s blowout win in Chicago, has mild right calf tightness, and is expected to play Friday at Golden State.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) March 23, 2023
- The Sixers will stay on the road as they take on the defending-champion Golden State Warriors at 10 p.m. ET.