By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 11, 2017
New Orleans 131, Philadelphia 124 – Box Score
With the Philadelphia sports scene in a mourning period following Carson Wentz’s injury, Joel Embiid being ruled out for Sunday night’s game with back stiffness (after being rested the night before in Cleveland) seemed like unfair piling on from the karma gods. Facing a New Orleans Pelicans team that features an anachronistic twin towers arrangement in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, the Sixers could ill-afford to have their gigantic unicorn missing in action.
Ultimately, while Davis (29 points, 5 blocks) and Cousins (23 points in 29 foul-plagued minutes) both did some damage, it was a face from Sixers past that sent the road team out of the Big Easy with their fourth straight defeat. Jrue Holiday, whose trade out of Philadelphia on draft night was the shot heard round the world to begin the Process era, caught fire in the second half, finishing 5-8 from behind the arc for a game-high 34 points. Holiday entered the night shooting just 27.9% from three on the season, but like the Process itself, playing the odds only improves your chances of success, it doesn’t guarantee it.
Aside from Embiid, the Sixers were also missing Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell among the regulars. The remaining members of the roster certainly put forth a good effort, especially on the offensive glass, collecting a remarkable 22 offensive rebounds. Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes, and newcomer Trevor Booker all collected five o-boards apiece. Those second chance opportunities were key in a 40-point quarter for the Sixers that saw them the lead before Holiday started dropping long-range bombs like a North Korean dictator.
J.J. Redick had an efficient night from the floor (8-14 from the field, 3-7 from three, 9-9 from the foul line) on his way to a team-high 28 points. Ben Simmons dropped 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 10 assists. Most encouragingly, coming off the game against the Cavaliers where he did not attempt a single free throw, Simmons showed no reservations about attacking the basket and drawing contact, going 7-9 on the game. The Pelicans often gave Ben plenty of space, daring him to shoot, but as usual, the rookie took it as license to go to the rim and finish with a ferocious dunk. On a couple occasions, New Orleans simply neglected to put a defender on Simmons entirely. It did not end well for the Pellies.
*How not to play defense against Ben Simmons* pic.twitter.com/8PfDc6ZSoo
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 11, 2017
Reportedly, Embiid injured his back in the Lakers game Thursday night. We’ll await word as to whether he will be available Tuesday night in Minnesota. Lord knows the city of Philadelphia could use a bit of good news.