76ers

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Breaking down Joel Embiid's rough shooting night

Joel Embiid has joked in the past about his desire to be a guard in the NBA. All kidding and three-point shooting aside, the big man wants to play at the basket.

“We’ve got to do a better job of finding me in the post,” he said Friday following the Sixers' loss to the Celtics. 

Embiid was candid about where he needs the ball following his 11-point performance. He didn’t score until the third quarter and shot 4 for 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from three in 28 minutes. 

“I felt like I needed to go to the perimeter to make something happen because I wasn’t getting the ball in the post,” Embiid said. “I think we’ve got to look at the tapes and find ways to get me the ball in the post. But I felt like because I wasn’t doing that, I had to go outside and make something happen to help us win.”

Embiid started off the game taking shots away from the basket. He went 0 for 2 from three in the first quarter and also missed a 20-foot jumper. His two points came at the line.

Embiid went scoreless in the second quarter and didn’t attempt any shots in the paint, either. He failed to connect on another three as well as an 11-foot jump shot and a 13-foot floater. 

He began the second half going 0 for 2 from long-range in the first four minutes. Finally, with 4:35 remaining in the quarter, he recorded his first field goal off a layup from Dario Saric. He scored off a dunk from Markelle Fultz late in the third and notched another point off a free throw. 

Embiid became more aggressive at the basket in the fourth quarter. He checked in with 5:37 remaining and the Sixers trailing by four. He knocked down a 13-foot pull-up and then missed his next four attempts: an eight-foot jumper, a layup, a trey, and a tip layup. Embiid made a layup with 16 seconds to play. 

The Sixers system has changed from last season when Embiid was the offensive go-to (20.2 points per game). As a rookie, he made 63.6 percent of his field goals within three feet of the basket, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

The Sixers have added more scoring options, including Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who drive the basket and are not perimeter-focused. Of the two, only Fultz made a shot outside the paint Friday. The team as a whole scored 40 of their 92 points in the paint, compared to 28 by the Celtics. Below is a combined shot chart for Simmons and Fultz. 

Embiid's teammates will look to feed Embiid the ball at the basket. Just two games into the season, this newly-constructed squad still is learning how to play with one another. Embiid was limited in full-court practices for the majority of training camp and only played in two preseason contests.

The Sixers also are adapting to the offense when Embiid is both on and off the court as his minutes and availability fluctuate. He is not playing Saturday against the Raptors in the second night of a back-to-back. 

“If he’s in the game and he’s in the post, get him the ball,” Fultz said.

Embiid echoed, “He’s right. That’s the right answer.”

Poof — Sixers' win streak vanishes in D.C.

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USA Today Images

Poof — Sixers' win streak vanishes in D.C.

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — The Sixers’ seven-game winning streak came to an end on the road Sunday at the hands of the Wizards, 109-94.

This matchup was a look ahead to a potential postseason matchup. The Sixers (32-26) are chasing the fourth seed, currently held by the Wizards (35-25), for homecourt advantage. They could have closed the gap on the two-game differential, but instead took a step back. 

The Sixers went into role reversal mode in the fourth. Just as the Magic had done to them the previous night, the Sixers tried to overcome a 23-point deficit with a late-game push. They got within eight points with under four minutes to go. 

The duo of starter Otto Porter Jr. (23 points) and reserve Kelly Oubre Jr. (19 points) set the tone of the game with a combined 32 points in the first half. Bradley Beal added another 24 points on the night to further separate the teams. 

The Sixers had not lost since Feb. 3, when they fell to the Pacers in Indiana. The Wizards continue to surge without All-Star John Wall (left knee surgery). They improved to 9-3 in his recent absence. 

• Joel Embiid continued to play on the second night of back-to-back series. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, his 31st double-double of the season. Embiid played through foul trouble after picking up his fourth two minutes into the third. 

• The Sixers had a rough night on the offensive end, shooting just 36 percent from the field while connecting on only nine of their 33 attempts from three-point range. The Wizards, on the other hand, shot at a 54.4 percent clip while connecting on 12 of their 25 threes.

• Marco Belinelli (10 points, 2-for-7 from three) played 25 minutes as he gets acclimated to his new teammates. Brett Brown believes Ben Simmons and Embiid will benefit from the spacing created by the veteran guard. 

“He’s a great cutter,” Simmons (16 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) said. “He can shoot the ball and his IQ is pretty good on the floor, so it just makes it easier for me.” 

• Brown went back to Amir Johnson as the first backup five off the bench. Richaun Holmes, who clocked 21 minutes Saturday, got 12 minutes in the second half, at times at the four alongside Embiid. 

• The Sixers could not capitalize on scoring 31 points off 19 Wizards turnovers. The Sixers gave up 17 points off 15 errors. 

• The Capital One Arena is the scene of Markelle Fultz’s opening night shooting struggles. Months later, he showed progress during drills before the game: 

• There always is a strong showing of Sixers fans in Washington, D.C. On Sunday they filled seats sporting jerseys ranging from Embiid and Simmons to Allen Iverson to Jrue Holiday. Fans loudly chanted “Trust the Process” and mixed in “E-A-G-L-E-S” every now and then. 

• Up next: The Sixers will travel to Miami to play the Heat Tuesday. Miami is currently in the eighth spot at 31-29. 

Jrue Holiday explodes in 2nd half of Pelicans' OT win over Bucks

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Jrue Holiday explodes in 2nd half of Pelicans' OT win over Bucks

MILWAUKEE — Jrue Holiday scored 28 of his season-high 36 points after halftime to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 123-121 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

Holiday added nine rebounds and six assists for New Orleans, which held on for its season-high fifth win in a row when Jason Terry's 3-pointer was ruled after the buzzer.

Anthony Davis, who entered the game as the league's third-leading scorer (27.7 ppg), added 27 points and 13 rebounds.

The Pelicans trailed by 18 early in the second half but outscored Milwaukee 38-19 in the third quarter.

Khris Middleton scored 25 points for the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the No. 2 scorer in the NBA (27.8) and Eric Bledsoe each added 20, but the Bucks lost for only the fourth time in the last 14 games and fell to 9-26 all-time against New Orleans.

Rajon Rondo came up with the play of the game by draining a 3-pointer from the right wing as the 24-second clock was about to expire to give the Pelicans a 123-119 lead with 1:25 remaining in overtime (see full recap).

Harden scores 41 in Rockets' 12th straight victory
DENVER — James Harden had 41 points and eight rebounds, Chris Paul scored 23 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 119-114 on Sunday night for their 12th straight victory.

Harden had 27 in the first half and seven in the fourth quarter, when the Rockets held off a late Denver rally. Harden has scored 40 or more points nine times this season. He finished with seven assists.

Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Denver, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Will Barton added 25 points.

The Rockets are 21-4 since Dec. 29 and own the best record (46-13) in the NBA. They are outscoring teams by an average of 12.5 points during the 12-game winning streak. The five-point win Sunday was their closest game during the streak.

Harden scored 14 points in the last 2:47 of the first quarter and assisted on Houston's other two baskets to end the period when the Rockets extended the lead from five to 13 (see full recap.) 

Spurs top Cavs to end losing streak
CLEVELAND — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points, Danny Green added 22 and the San Antonio Spurs ended their annual "rodeo" road trip by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-94 on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.

Green, who missed Friday's loss at Denver with food poisoning, came off the bench for the first time in 49 games this season. He made five 3-pointers to provide a perfect outside complement to Aldridge's dynamic inside game. Dejounte Murray added 13 points and nine rebounds for San Antonio, a team not accustomed to any turmoil.

But the Spurs have not been themselves lately while playing without star Kawhi Leonard. They had dropped six of seven and four in a row on a trip (their arena hosts a rodeo every year) that coach Gregg Popovich's squad typically uses as a spring board into the playoffs.

LeBron James had 33 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists for the Cavs, who fell to 3-2 since overhauling their roster with three trades (see full recap).

Howard leads Hornets over Pistons 
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Something has changed for the Hornets' bench in the last three game. Cody Zeller calls it "rhythm." Frank Kaminsky calls it "flow."

No matter what name this newfound chemistry goes by, it has added up to the best play of the season from Charlotte reserves. And Sunday, it meant the difference as the Hornets beat the Detroit Pistons 114-98 for a season-best fourth straight win.

Dwight Howard led the Hornets with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Kemba Walker also recorded 17 points for Charlotte. But it was the Hornets' bench outscoring Detroit's reserves 51-28 that gave Charlotte the biggest edge.

"This is maybe the best 3-4 games we've played all season just because we're starting to put it together, especially on the defensive end," Zeller said. "Everyone is tied together."

The Hornets improved to 27-33 while making a push toward the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs. The Pistons have 28 wins, and there are eight teams in the conference with at least 31 victories (see full recap).