Sixers quiet Thunder behind Joel Embiid’s triple double

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Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots between Oklahoma City Thunder center Mike Muscala, left, and guard Luguentz Dort, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

After back-to-back disappointing outings against the Washington Wizards and the New Orleans Pelicans, respectively, the Philadelphia 76ers have found themselves back in the win column after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder. Quite a few Sixers were missing from the lineup tonight; however, thanks to the balanced effort of the motley starting lineup, the team was able to comfortably overcome their opponent.

It’s difficult to say who was the most impressive of the Sixers’ players tonight, but Joel Embiid’s name certainly is one of the first that comes to mind. Philadelphia’s superstar cruised to his fifth-career triple-double tonight, scoring 16 points to go along with 13 rebounds and ten assists. Embiid had come close not once, not twice, but thrice this season to the accomplishment that eludes most centers — at least those not named Wilt Chamberlain or Nikola Jokic (or Domantas Sabonis to a lesser degree). To have finally reached it is likely not lost him.

While James Harden, PJ Tucker, and Tyrese Maxey all rested on the second night of a back-to-back, The Process took to the hardwood as the team was in desperate need of a win. While no one can say that the Sixers would have won without their franchise player, the good news is that he was afforded a bit of rare old-fashioned load management thanks to a dominant first half.

After Embiid, Tobias Harris is another Sixer who stepped up in a big way when he was needed tonight. Harris led all scorers with 23 points, along with nine rebounds and four assists. Once again, Harris had to change his role as without Harden and Maxey; the team was in need of a bit more of a hands-on approach, a challenge which Harris happily accepted.

Finally, there’s the tandem of De’Anthony Melton and Shake Milton. Normally reserves Melton and Milton have had their fair share of starts this season due to the ferocious injury bug that has plagued the Sixers this season, and once again, they stepped up.

Combining for 35 points, 11 rebounds, ten steals, and four steals, the two pesky combo guards cause the Thunder problems left and right throughout the night, especially De’Anthony Melton. Both guards have been heavily relied upon by the Sixers this season, and that will only be the case more and more as the Sixers approach their final playoff push.

While the winning streak ended during this road trip, the Sixers managed to rebound and ended it on the right foot, and as we enter 2023, the vibes are trending upward.