Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid’s Triple-Double Lifts Sixers Over Rockets

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With three days of rest after their massive win over the Brooklyn Nets, the Sixers took to court once again in a matchup against the struggling Houston Rockets. Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. were both suspended for this matchup due to a halftime altercation in the previous game, which left the 10-27 Rockets even more shorthanded.

The Sixers had an unexpected roster change shortly before the game, as Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle were ruled out of the game due to health and safety protocols. The early indications seemed to be that Matisse was out due to an inconclusive test, which could mean he is back on the court in the short term. It is especially disappointing to see Maxey ruled out as he is coming off one of his most impressive games of the season, where he showed noticeable improvement playing alongside Joel Embiid.

First Half Notes

As is typically the case with the Sixers, Joel Embiid set the tempo for the team. The Sixers’ superstar was dominant out of the gate and, in the first quarter alone, tallied 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Embiid did an excellent job getting deep post position as well as getting out in transition. The Rockets did not double-team Embiid very quickly, and Embiid punished them whenever he was left in a one-on-one matchup with Daniel Theis. 

With Doc Rivers still out due to contracting Covid, assistant coach Dan Burke took the reigns for the second straight game. Burke allowed for Joel Embiid to remain in the game for the entire first quarter and gave Paul Reed and Isaiah Joe some first-quarter minutes. Furkan Korkmaz was also able to catch fire early on and knocked down three three-pointers for the Sixers. 

The referees were not shy about blowing their whistles early on as the Rockets got to the free-throw line 16 times in the first quarter. This is the most that any opposing team has tallied against the Sixers in any quarter this season.

Momentum slowed in the second quarter as the Rockets were able to use their athleticism to exploit the Sixers’ subpar transition defense. Houston ultimately won the quarter 33-28 and was able to carry a 63-62 lead into the half. Tobias Harris continued his cold streak by shooting 3 for 10 in the first half while being a team-low -5 on the half. Philly fans showered Harris with boos at the tail-end of the half, which he elected to attempt to embrace. 

Second Half Notes

The Sixers were able to jump out to a lead in the third quarter, winning it by a margin of 41-29. Joel Embiid looked to be in complete control and quickly climbed into triple-double territory. The Sixers were in need of a spark outside of their big man, and it was none other than Furkan Korkmaz to answer the call.

Furk ended with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists and shot the ball as confident as ever. The Sixers are a much better team when Furkan is hitting shots, and hopefully, this game was a sign that he straightened things out.

While he has had better scoring totals, this was one of Joel Embiid’s most impressive games so far this season. The growth in his feel for the game and basketball IQ has made a massive impact on his level of play, and games like tonight are evidence of this.

Embiid picked up his third career triple-double ending with 31 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in just under 30 minutes of play. This type of effort just goes to show what an impressive talent Joel Embiid is and should catapult him back into the MVP conversation where he rightfully belongs.

After the brief first-half scare, the Sixers were able to coast to a 131-110 victory. The Sixers outscored the Rockets 71-50 in the second half, which helped to put the game away. The youthful Rockets proved to be no match for Philly, and there was some extended run given to some of the young guys to end the game. 

Overall Thoughts

Since his return from Covid, there may not be another player in the NBA playing at a higher level than Joel Embiid. While it is amazing to watch the things he is capable of, it is frustrating for this Sixers team to be unable to win a game without Embiid having a great game. It was amazing to watch Embiid pad the stat sheet, but it simply shouldn’t be necessary against a team like the Houston Rockets

On the positive side of things, the Sixers were able to wake up and put the game away in the second half. This was a game the Sixers would have had no business losing, and in the end, they were able to take care of business. Don’t look now, but the Sixers are beginning to heat up.

Philly has now won 4 straight games and 5 of their last 6. With a record of 20-16 on the year and a slightly easier schedule on the horizon, the Sixers have an excellent chance to climb in the Eastern Conference standings moving forward.

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Lead Sixers Writer for Philly Sports Network and Co-host of the Pick Swap Podcast. Trust the Process

Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod


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