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Joel Embiid drops 41 in return, Sixers take down Rockets

Joel Embiid returned with a monster performance, dropping 41 and leading the Sixers to a blowout win over the Rockets.

Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Back to the comfortable territory of the fourth quarter not really mattering that much.

The Sixers welcomed the reigning MVP back to the lineup with a 124-115 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday afternoon.

In his return to the lineup, Joel Embiid dropped 41 points, shooting 12-of-21 from the field. He kept the all-important 30 and 10 streak alive by putting up 10 rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal.

Tyrese Maxey put up 27 points on a night he shot 60% from three-range.

While Embiid returned to the lineup, the team was without De’Anthony Melton and Mo Bamba due to a back issue and a knee issue, respectively.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Philly was very active on the defensive end at the start. They recorded five steals in just the first six minuets of the game. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Nico Batum were cheating off their men when Alperen Sengun had the ball at the nail, and they were able to pick his pocket repeatedly.
  • While they generated those turnovers, they weren’t capitalizing on them. The Sixers ended the quarter with only two fast-break points to show for it. Maxey threw a lob that he couldn’t decide to send to Oubre or Tobias Harris, and the ball unsurprisingly sailed into the crowd.
  • Embiid was in a rhythm from the jump. He put up 13 in the first quarter shooting 4-of-6 from the field. Most of his touches resulted in jumpers from the free throw line, but his most impressive basket of the quarter was when he euro-stepped around Amen Thompson to complete an and-1. The Sixers led by 14 after the first after a Cam Whitmore three was taken off the board.

Second Quarter

  • With injuries still nagging at the wings on this team, Danuel House Jr. was asked to step into some extra minutes today. He was ready to go, knocking down a three to start the second quarter. A couple possessions later he grabbed an offensive rebound, and finished the play with a fadeaway that resulted in an and-1. House led the team in rebounds with five at the half.
  • The Sixers as a team shot very well from three-point range in the first half. House’s make was the first of three in a row from beyond the arc to start the second quarter. They went into the break shooting 53% on 17 three-point attempts.
  • Letting Embiid roam continued to be an effective strategy for Philly’s defense. The Rockets struggled to figure out where to attack the paint, plus the Sixers continued to use that space to clog up passing lanes. They did let up a bit at the end of the quarter, specifically in transition. Houston took advantage, going on a quick 12-4 run to end the half, but they still found themselves trailing by 19.

Third Quarter

  • This was another quintessential Batum game. He made so many little plays that don’t show up in the box score. He saved a handful of possessions by tapping rebounds out of scrums into the hands of waiting teammates. He even hit one all the way out to get a fast break started for Embiid, which resulted in a trip to the free throw line.
  • Houston adjusted their approach on offense, and had more success on drives to start the second half. They made six of their first seven shots in the paint in the third quarter as they chipped away.
  • That rim pressure really looked like it would be problem when Paul Reed checked into the game — something he never does in the third quarter — due to Embiid picking up his fifth foul. That foul really put a damper on this tweet from Kevin Durant early in the quarter.
  • Philly held up fairly well despite the quicker hook for Embiid. Patrick Beverley did a good job all night of making sure the offense got into their sets, especially during this stretch. Through three quarters, he filled up the stat sheet with seven points, four boards and six assists as the Sixers led by 21 heading into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • It’s incredible it took over three quarters of basketball for the combination of Dillon Brooks, Marcus Morris and Pat Bev to draw double technical fouls. It finally happened at the beginning of the fourth when the former two had some words for each other during a dead ball stoppage.
  • It was an odd Maxey game offensively. He shot the ball very well from beyond the arc but was struggling from two-point distance. He was just 1-of-7 from inside the arc before throwing down this dunk. That’s two very impressive dunks in traffic in the past week for Maxey.
  • Embiid staying in the past couple of non-competitive games has caused a lot of annoying discourse, and today looked liked that again. Embiid played well into the fourth, well after he got his 30th point, but today seemed way more justifiable. Embiid always needs to ramp up his conditioning after missing this much time, and even with staying in the game he played under 32 minutes.
  • If anything, the Sixers were playing with fire with how early they emptied the bench. Houston made the score look a lot closer than the game was for most of the day. They also might have another injury to deal with. House took a hard spill on his back and left the game. The Sixers will really hope he doesn’t miss any time, as they’re already without Melton and Robert Covington.
  • The Sixers will be right back at it tomorrow — and it’s a big one. They’ll welcome Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets to town for a 7:30 p.m. ET contest on TNT.

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