76ers

Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid's X-rays negative; Simmons starstruck in win

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DALLAS — Joel Embiid wrapped up his Saturday night with an X-ray and the results were positive … for both him and the Sixers.

Embiid suffered a right-hand contusion during the Sixers' 112-110 win over the Mavericks and the team got a closer look at the hand afterward. The results of the x-ray came back negative.

In the win — the Sixers' first in Dallas since Jan. 29, 2005 — Embiid played more than 39 minutes, including eight in the fourth quarter, and was on the court at the end for the game. He scored 23 points, with nine rebounds and four assists.

The Sixers practice Sunday and more information about Embiid's hand will be available then.

No spoilers this time
The Sixers were just days removed from a buzzer-beating loss to the Rockets and after extensively studying late-game film, they weren’t about to let it happen again against the Mavericks.

Again, the Sixers found themselves trying to cling to the lead as time wound down. This time, it was different.

The Sixers were forced to clamp down on defense as seconds ticked away and then pulled away with the win.

“It was one of the same types of situations that we let them get back into the game instead of finally putting them away,” Robert Covington said. “That’s a game of runs, but in this game, we learned how to close. We knew that we had to lock in and get the stops that we needed. It’s unfortunate that we put ourselves in that situation, but it’s part of what’s going to help us grow as a team.” 

Brett Brown saw progress in specific areas from Wednesday’s loss, including finding Embiid more often and improving inbounding the ball. He recognized there still is much work to be done with the experience on the roster.  

“It’s the evolution of this young team,” Brown said. “You’re never satisfied. Somewhere probably tomorrow you’re going to realize you won, but there’s always things you wish you could have done better.”

Unconventional defense
In addition to Embiid’s statistical highlights, he also committed seven turnovers and accounted for half of the Sixers’ team total.

The Mavericks stifled Embiid with a zone defense that factored into some of those errors. That approach posed different challenges than when he was guarded one-on-one by Nerlens Noel. 

“Against Dirk (Nowitzki), it was more of a zone,” Embiid said. “That’s something I haven’t seen since college. I wouldn’t say that was the cause of all my turnovers, but I just got to do a better job of it. It was different.”

Appreciating a future Hall-of-Famer 
Ben Simmons is only 21 years old, but he doesn’t get taken aback by a lot of players in the league. After all, he has developed a close relationship with LeBron James and sees his opponents as his peers.

Nowitzki, however, is one of the exceptions.

“That’s awesome,” Simmons said of competing against the 20-year veteran. “I kept telling JJ (Redick) actually when he was on the bench, ‘That’s Dirk. That’s Dirk.’ That’s special.”

Embiid has his own kind of appreciation for Nowitzki, too. They got to know each other through a Basketball Without Borders trip and are in a group text together. The last time they spoke before the Sixers' trip to Dallas was just one week ago. 

“He’s a good friend,” Embiid said. “I call him one of my big brothers. … That was my first time playing against him and playing against a legend like him is always good. I wanted to do his move against him. I almost did it, but the ball got stripped. But it was a great battle.”

Raining threes
The Sixers and Mavericks weren’t shy from the three-point line. The Sixers made 16 (45.7 percent) while the Mavericks netted 19 (47.5 percent). Those were the top-two totals around the league Saturday. Harrison Barnes hit 7 of 12. Dario Saric led the Sixers with four treys and Covington and Embiid were right behind with three apiece. 

The long-range shooting makes it easier for the Sixers’ point guards to find recipients of open looks. 

“It opens up the floor so much more, gives you driving lanes,” T.J. McConnell said. “Then when people collapse, you’re reversing the ball and that’s when the ball starts moving and it becomes easier.”

Not just a reunion for Noel
Justin Anderson returned to the American Airlines Center for the first time since being traded for Noel in February.

The game was overshadowed by Noel’s matchup with Embiid, but Anderson was dealing with his own feelings about facing his former team. 

“Man, it was weird,” Anderson said. “The biggest thing I kept beating myself up about is, it’s not about me. As much as I wanted to make it about me, as much I felt as though I made so many relationships, so many friends here, and people were like, ‘Justin’s coming back to play in Dallas,’ well, Nerlens was playing against his old team. It wasn’t about me.

"On my way to the gym, I let it all go and said I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to help our team win. Sure enough, we came out with a W.” 

Anderson appeared in 106 games for the Mavericks over parts of his first two seasons.