Sixers attempt to rally but fall short against Pelicans, 114-124

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Philadelphia Nurse
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse calls out from the bench in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Philadelphia 76ers clashed with the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans on November 29th. Joel Embiid was a late scratch for the road trip leaving Marcus Morris Sr. to fill the starting position. The Sixers were losing by as much as 29 points during the game, but a 33-point 4th quarter had Philadelphia flirting with a comeback before falling to the Pelicans 124-114. Tyrese Maxey finished with a team-high 33 points, while De’Anthony Melton added another 17.

Sixers First-Half Struggles

New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) goes to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in New Orleans, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The Sixers did not start the game well. The Pelicans opened the game on an 18-6 run. After Nico Batum hit the first shot for the Sixers, a quick three-pointer off of an assist from Marcus Morris Sr., the 76ers struggled. After a late scratch for superstar Joel Embiid, Marcus Morris Sr. got the start in place of him, and Philadelphia would end up playing 3 different centers in the first quarter.

After Jonas Valancians’s early success, Morris Sr. was subbed out in favor of the 7’0″ Mo Bamba. However, Bamba getting into early foul trouble caused Sixers head coach Nick Nurse to turn back to Paul Reed. Morris Sr. was eventually subbed back in alongside Paul Reed. At the end of the 1st quarter, the score was 39-24, with the Pelicans on top.

In the second quarter, the 76ers improved but were still outscored 29-24. Both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram played excellently. Dyson Daniels had an incredible steal that led to a dunk, and Jonas Valancuinas was consistently double-teamed, opening the door for the Pelicans to win the quarter. K.J. Martin was able to get some early minutes in the second quarter and was consistently everywhere on the court.

Heading into halftime, the Pelicans led the Sixers 68-48. Zion had 16 points on 7/7 shooting, along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas each had 12 points in the first half. Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers in scoring with 15 points on 6/14 shooting (0/5 from three). Marcus Morris and Pat Beverly each had 7 points.

A Second Half Rally Comes Up Short

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) shoots between New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The third quarter was more of the same. The Pelicans dominated early, and Zion Williamson appeared to be on another plane of existence with how he was playing. No matter what the Sixers threw at him, man, double teams, zone, Zion appeared to be hitting absolutely everything through the first three quarters.

The defensive instincts of the Pelicans were also on full display, stealing and altering nearly every single shot. While the Sixers struggled to defend, their offense did get better. Tyrese Maxey appeared to heat up significantly in the third quarter, as did Robert Covington.

Covington has been tremendous in his return to the Philadelphia 76ers since joining the team in the James Harden trade. Despite Philadelphia’s improved offensive showing in the 3rd quarter, the Sixers were still outscored by the Pelicans, 34-33.

In the fourth, the Sixers were finally able to regain control of the game, but it was a little too late. Philadelphia finally outscored the Pelicans in a quarter, 33-22. They were able to show significant grit and determination in their fight back, flirting with a comeback on a 17-2 run late in the fourth quarter. Despite excellent play from Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, and Robert Covington, the Sixers ultimately fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 124-114.