An extremely shorthanded Sixers squad came up just short, falling 111-105 to the Denver Nuggets Saturday night.
Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris were out of action after popping up on the injury report yesterday, and Joel Embiid was the latest of scratches — ruled out minutes before tip off with left knee soreness.
Paul Reed went for a career-high 30 points, shooting 14-of-21 from the floor and 2-of-4 from downtown. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 25 points shooting 9-of-17 from the field, while Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris Sr. had 17 points apiece.
Nikola Jokic led the way for the Nuggets, going for 26 points, 16 boards, and seven assists.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Goodness gracious Denver’s city edition uniforms they wore today were atrocious. Yet another franchise with so many good aesthetics in their history that Nike has ruined.
- Jamal Murray, fresh off two weeks of trash talk from Patrick Beverley, came out very hot. He hit his first three shots, all from beyond the arc, leading a balanced Nuggets offense with nine in the first. His ass was decidedly not locked up.
- Paul Reed has struggled to scale up in games without Embiid, but that was not the case early. It was quite the Embiid impersonation actually, as he had 10 in the opening quarter, shooting 5-of-7 from the floor on a bevy of midrange jumpers. The Sixers trailed by four after the opening quarter.
- No one was certainly locking Beverley up on the other end. He ripped off nine points to begin the second, hitting Philly’s first three-pointer of the game in the process. He also had eight assists to only two turnovers in the first half to go along with that.
- Another veteran with a big half was Morris, who made six of his first seven shots from the field. A hot start for Morris was key as he was overwhelmed trying to follow around Jokic and Aaron Gordon on the defensive end of the floor. Morris led the Sixers with 17 at the half as they shot 66.7% from the field.
- Denver wasn’t shooting at quite the clip the Sixers were, but at 52.4% from the field, they weren’t exactly struggling either. They did miss seven free throws in the second, another odd blip that helped Philly hang around.
- The quarter ended just as it begun, with Beverley weaving his way through the Nuggets’ defense off of a screen from Reed. He got the floater to fall to cut the lead down to two at the half.
- This was Oubre’s best game in a while, and that’s because of the success he had slashing to the hoop. Seven of his first eight made field goals were at the rim. He grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds which converted to put-backs as well, it looked a lot more like the Oubre that started the season.
- Just about everyone who suited up for the Sixers tonight gave them solid minutes at some point. KJ Martin had a nice two-way showing in the third, finishing the quarter with seven points shooting 3-of-4 from the floor.
- It wouldn’t be a Sixers-Nuggets game without a shot clock malfunction at some point.
- Philly’s half court really got dicey as the Nuggets started to lock in defensively. Denver had them taking down the whole shot clock nearly every possession. Thanks to this three from Furkan Korkmaz and an errant Danuel House Jr. pass finding Reed on the block, the Sixers took a two-point lead into the fourth.
- With everyone out, the Sixers asked Jaden Springer to do some ball-handling, the first time in non-garbage time minutes. It didn’t go great, as he had an ugly travel in the first half and got stripped by Peyton Watson in the second. He made make up for the second turnover with one of his patented pin-down blocks on the ensuing possession.
- As the Sixers legs wore out, their chaotic plays were significantly less successful. House, attempting to draw a foul, hoisted up what was described in the box score as a “floating three-pointer.” That capped off a particularly rough stretch for House, who finished 0-of-3 from three-point range.
- Reed both tied and surpassed his career-high in the most Bball Paul way possible. He came flying in from out of nowhere to put back a dunk in transition for 25. He got to 28 by knocking down a three in Jokic’s face as the Nuggets were threatening to put the game away.
Career-high 28 for Paul Reed!— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2024
3-point game inside final 2 minutes on ABC pic.twitter.com/PaeOOyDYtm
- That three-ball from Reed was just one of three field goals Philly made in the last 5:38 of the game. It was just too difficult for them to generate shots to keep pace with Denver, even with the Nuggets unable to hit a free throw.
- The road trip continues with a trip to Portland, as the Sixers next contest is Monday night at 10 p.m. ET against the Trail Blazers.