Sixers survive for second win of the season

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 112, Dallas 110 – Box Score

Coming off a buzzer-beater defeat Wednesday night, the least Sixers fans could have hoped for was that the team took a lesson away from it. Saturday night, with the game on the line against the Mavericks, it looked like the Sixers may have learned something, but they still needed a bit of luck to grab their second win of the season.

With 37 seconds left in the game, Harrison Barnes knocked down a three to cut the Sixers lead to two. Unlike the Rockets game where Joel Embiid did not receive a touch in the final five offensive possessions, this time around Philadelphia got the ball to the big man a couple feet outside the low block. Embiid backed down Barnes and easily laid it in, with a groundbound Dirk Nowitzki offering no resistance as weak side help.

Still, the Sixers couldn’t entirely shake their late-game woes. Barnes hit yet another three (7-12 on the night for a game-high 25 points) and Jerryd Bayless only sank one of two free throws to extend Philadelphia’s lead to two. As Yogi Ferrell quickly raced the ball up court and attacked the basket, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot fouled him with 0.2 seconds remaining. Finally though, something broke the Sixers’ way, with Ferrell (an 86% career free throw shooter) missing the first shot, sealing the victory for Philadelphia.

That final Embiid bucket was the cap on another strong performance, as the center shot 3-7 from three for 23 points, to go with 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and (regrettably) 7 turnovers. Embiid still tends to get himself in trouble whenver he tries to take someone one-on-one off-the-dribble. He either needs to stop up or make one quick move out of the post; in those situations, he’s borderline unstoppable. Ask good friend Nerlens Noel, who received the start for Dallas to try and deal with the Process; Noel had just 4 points and 4 rebounds with no steals or blocks in 20 minutes. Embiid even escaped uninjured; he recieved x-rays on his hand after the game, presumably due to a head-first slide he took into a cameraman, but fortunately, the results were negative.

Death, taxes, and Ben Simmons tallying at least 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. The rookie has yet to miss those marks, going off for a career-high 23 points on 10-15 shooting, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals. Impressively, Simmons continues to be the catalyst for the Sixers offense while taking good care of the basketball (only 1 turnover Saturday). It may have been due to Dallas often not having a rim blocker in the game, but Simmons showed off much more power around the basket, rather than shying away from contact. On numerous occasions, the Aussie bullied his way to the basket and finished with authority, including this gorgeous, coast-to-coast finish.

With J.J. Redick sidelined with back tightness, T.J. McConnell played a season-high 31 minutes and backed up Brett Brown’s confidence in him. McConnell scored a season-high 15 points on 7-10 shooting, dishing 8 assists and grabbing yet another patented backcourt steal.

The Sixers big three: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and T.J. McConnell. Just as everyone predicted.

This season have stuck to a trend for the Sixers. Aside from the loss to Toronto (a second game of a back-to-back), Philadelphia has taken care of business against the less-talented teams they’ve faced and lost close, competitive games to upper-echelon opponents. If that holds true (with maybe a few of those games pulled out against those better teams along the way), this season can be judged a success.

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