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Sixers find a way to beat Mavs, snap three-game skid with Embiid, Harden back

Joel Embiid and James Harden had to knock off rust early, but the Sixers stayed within arms reach of the Mavs before securing a win Wednesday.

Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Almost none of it was pretty, but the Sixers picked up their 50th win of the season by knocking off the Dallas Mavericks, 116-108, Wednesday night. After missing Monday's loss in Denver, Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 25 points on 8 of 17 shooting, along with nine rebounds and three assists.

Tyrese Maxey had 22 points along with four rebounds and four assists.

James Harden also returned after missing the last four games, and he gave the Sixers 15 points along with 12 assists and four boards.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • It’s understandable to see some rust, but Philly’s offense was super clunky to start the game. Between fruitless isolations and mistimed passes, their ball movement was pretty much non-existent early.
  • Embiid looked alright physically, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. He took five trips to the free throw line, completely overpowering Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber.
  • Kyrie Irving on the other hand, was firing on all cylinders from the tip off. He led the Mavericks with 11 first-quarter points, as well as one verbal altercation with a fan sitting court-side.
  • That Josh Green play to end the quarter was very confusing. It looked like he didn’t even come close to getting the shot off before the buzzer, but I think it was counted because of how blatantly Georges Niang fouled him. Not only was he fouled, but the basket fell too, a huge four-point play as the quarter ended, giving the Mavs a nine-point lead.

Second Quarter

  • The foul was a tough swing, but Niang did at least do his best to make up for it on the offensive end. He made his first three attempts from downtown as the Sixers really were letting it fly. Their first six attempts of the second were from beyond the arc.
  • The three-point shooting from Niang and De’Anthony Melton really buoyed the Sixers, as they continued to slog through their offense, shooting 42 percent from the floor in the second. It didn’t feel like Dallas did anything to prevent the Sixers from getting good looks, they just weren’t getting them.
  • A better team probably would have put the Sixers in quite the hole, given how lifeless they looked on the offensive end. Luckily for them, Dallas is not playing their sharpest ball either. The Mavericks shot 9 of 21 from the floor in the second, and the Sixers had to be feeling good about only being down five at the half.

Third Quarter

  • Sixers-Mavericks games are cursed.
  • The Sixers looked better to start the third quarter than they did at any point in the first half. Forcing four turnovers in five minutes started a 13-3 run that helped them take their first lead since the first few minutes of the game.
  • Both teams shot the ball well from outside, and that continued after halftime. Shooting 6 of 11 from three in the quarter allowed the Mavs to extinguish the Sixers’ momentum. The Sixers were 4 off 6 in the third, with Niang sinking one with five seconds left to tie the game at 89.
  • Just like the first quarter, the Sixers ended the third with an insanely dumb foul. Jalen McDaniels blew through Maxi Kleber attempting to set a screen 60-feet away from the basket. McDaniels was called for a flagrant 1, giving the Mavs a two-point lead entering the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • Paul Reed arguing with the refs after he got an and-one is the funniest moment of his career so far, and there’s some stiff competition.
  • Harden played his best ball of the night in the fourth quarter, specifically his passing. Five of his 12 assists came in the final period, and he could have had a few more as well, like the play to Reed above.
  • As far as Embiid performances go, this felt like a pretty quiet one, especially on the offensive end, though it still felt like he was the one who swung the game. He knocked down a three and an elbow jumper when he checked back into the game, giving the Sixers a lead they would never surrender.
  • Doc Rivers decided to close with De’Anthony Melton over P.J. Tucker, a sensible choice as Melton had the hot hand. It paid off almost immediately when Melton made his fifth triple of the night. He finished with 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting.
  • The Sixers will be back at it at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night, where they’ll wrap up their season series with the Toronto Raptors at 7 p.m. ET.

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