Sixers roast Pelicans to stay unbeaten on the home stand

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 100, New Orleans 82 – Box Score

After months of searching, the Sixers at long last found what they were looking for: the lead too big to blow. Just like their previous game against Washington, the Sixers never trailed against New Orleans, opening up an 18-point lead after the first quarter. Joel Embiid shook off his sore ankle to dominate the game from the onset, recording 16 points and 6 rebounds in the opening stanza alone.

On the other end, Embiid anchored a terrific defensive effort by Philadelphia. The Sixers held the Pelicans to 14 points in the first quarter and just 11 in the third. The Eagles scored more points in two quarters of the Super Bowl than the Pelicans managed in the third quarter. New Orleans is clearly in a tailspin since DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the year with a torn achilles; they have now lost 5 of 6 games following the injury.

By the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Sixers led by as many as 35, vitally allowing Brett Brown to rest the starters for the entire fourth quarter with a back-to-back against the Clippers on Saturday night. Embiid finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds in just 24 minutes. As relayed by @SixersStats, he is one of just four players to record that many points and assists in less than 25 minutes, joining Kenneth Faried, Karl Malone, and Robert Parish. Embiid was also instrumental in rendering Anthony Davis a non-factor; the Brow shot just 6-19 from the field for 14 points. Plus, in a nod to the Winter Olympics kicking off, he and Robert Covington combined for a synchronized alley-oop.

Dario Saric matched Embiid for game-high honors with 24 points. Saric shot 8-11 from the field and 4-5 from behind the arc; he’s up to 38.4% from three on 5 attempts per game. Remember when whether his shooting would translate to the States was a legitimate question? The Homie Dario was in the rookie of the year conversation last season, but I think we’ll look back on this as his breakout campaign.

Meanwhile, Ben Simmons struggled to finish around the basket, going just 3-11 from the floor for 10 points, but stuffed the stat sheet elsewhere with 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and a block. Brett Brown had no interest in putting him back on the floor after his 25 minutes to chase a meaningless triple double.

The win and a loss from Detroit put a game of separation between the Sixers and 9th place in the Eastern Conference. They’re also just 2.5 games back of Washington for the fourth seed in what’s become a very bunched playoff bracket outside of Toronto and Boston. The Sixers have three more winnable games at home before the All-Star break (Clippers, also playing on a back-to-back, the Porzingis-less Knicks, and Miami when the Heat will have played another road game the night before). Things are looking good for the Sixers and there were more Super Bowl Champion Eagles in the house Friday night. We deserve this.

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