The Philadelphia 76ers returned home from their four-game road trip to face off against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Sixers lost to the Pelicans 127-116 in the third game of their road trip but ended their road trip with a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Pelicans came into Monday night’s rematch after a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on New Year’s Eve.
Philadelphia had control early in the first half, but Zion Williamson got it going and helped bring New Orleans back into the game. After a highly contested third quarter, the Sixers pulled away behind the play of Joel Embiid and James Harden. The Sixers defeated the Pelicans 120-111 behind 40 points from Embiid and 27 points and eight assists from James Harden. New Orleans was paced by 26 points a piece from Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum.
Defending New Orleans’ Stars
Early in this matchup, the Sixers did a tremendous job guarding CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson. They forced Williamson into tough shots and showed on every screen that CJ McCollum received. Starting in the second quarter, Zion Williamson showed why he is such a tough guard.
He forced his way to the basket possession after possession getting layup after layup. PJ Tucker and Tobias Harris both got cracks at guarding Zion, with neither having much success. Williamson ended the night with 26 and could have been more, but he went out with a lower leg injury. Side Note: Zion Williamson showed why he must see on TV every night.
Embiid is Just Too Good
After being on the injury report as questionable for the matchup against the Pelicans due to back soreness, Joel Embiid came out in the first quarter and dominated. Embiid played the entire first quarter totaling 13 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Embiid ended up with a casual 40 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Embiid continues to be a force for this Sixers team, win or lose.
The Sixers’ star has officially rounded into MVP form and hasn’t gotten much recognition for his play in the form of being mentioned in MVP discussions. One thing to watch for is information on Embiid’s ankle. He seemed to tweak his ankle late in the fourth but continued to play. Let’s hope it isn’t something serious.
The Minivan is Out of the Shop
Georges Niang hasn’t had his best shooting performances in the last few outings. Niang checked in midway through the first quarter and hit four three-pointers in the first half. He wasn’t gun-shy, shooting whenever the ball made its way to him on the perimeter. Niang ended the game with 15 points shooting 5/9 from three-point range. When Niang is hitting, his quick trigger is very valuable for this squad.