In a game mixed with physical play and finesse offense, the Sixers stretched their winning streak to four with a 121-110 victory over the Pacers on Friday night.
They improved to 5-4 and got over the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 13, 2013. It was the first time the Sixers have won four straight since the 2013-14 season.
The Paul George-less Pacers have been surprisingly one of the tougher teams in the league this season. They came to Philadelphia on a three-game winning streak, including Ws over the Spurs and Cavaliers, but the Sixers ended that.
JJ Redick exploded for 31 points as he went 8 for 12 for three. He made acrobatic shots in game-changing moments down the stretch (3 of 4 from three in the fourth), including an off-balance trey to beat the shot clock and go up six with a minute to go, showing why he was so coveted in free agency.
The Pacers didn’t go down without a fight. They flip-flopped dominating quarters with the Sixers and led by three with four minutes to play. Victor Oladipo (see below) scored nine straight at one point in the fourth.
• Ben Simmons is racking up the triple-doubles. He posted 14 points (six in the fourth), 11 rebounds and 11 assists along with three steals and three blocks in 39 minutes (see highlights). Simmons committed five of the Sixers' 20 turnovers. The feat marked Simmons’ second triple-double of the season.
• Joel Embiid (18 points, nine rebounds, five assists, six turnovers) was on the receiving end of the refs’ whistles (see highlights). He was issued a flagrant late in the first quarter after he went for a block and instead swatted Joe Young in the head. Embiid picked up his third foul with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter and his fourth just over three minutes into the third. He also was hampered by missed dunks throughout the game.
• Dario Saric said he feels a sense of pressure and responsibility being back in the starting lineup. To that, Brett Brown commented, “Definitely not pressure. Definitely responsibility. He’s got to play free.” Saric looked confident early on and scored seven points in the first quarter. He scored 15 points (3 for 5 from three) and snared six rebounds in 21 minutes.
• Richaun Holmes made his regular-season debut on Friday. Amir Johnson got the backup center minutes in the first half and Holmes subbed in for Embiid with 8:57 to go in the third. Holmes (six points, five rebounds, 10 minutes) was aggressive and showed that “bounce” Brown has been talking about. He had a put-back dunk off a Redick miss and got up for this jam from from T.J. McConnell (see video).
• Myles Turner played his second game of the season after missing the last seven (concussion). He came in off the bench and quickly looked for his shot while spreading the floor (11 points, 4 for 14 from the field, nine rebounds). Turner, 21, is a player to watch in this league.
• Was Oladipo’s offense hitting a slump? Not quite. The Pacers guard entered the game averaging 23.8 points (12th in the NBA) but started out 0 for 3 in the first quarter. Then he snapped back into form and went 4 for 4 in the second quarter.
• Good thing NBA teams have so many extra uniforms for their players. Simmons’ jersey ripped apart in the second quarter (see story). The same has happened to LeBron James, Draymond Green and Tyler Ennis. The Nike uniforms are new for this season.
• Injury updates: Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness, muscle imbalance) was the only player injured for the Sixers. Glenn Robinson III (left ankle surgery rehab) and Edmond Sumner (left knee surgery rehab) were sidelined for the Pacers. Damien Wilkins was out because of personal reasons. T.J. Leaf left the game with a sprained left ankle.
• Talk about being resourceful. The temperature inside the Wells Fargo Center was colder than usual and Saric worked with what he had. Maybe next time he’ll bring a Snuggie.
• Alex Poythress signed a two-way contract with the Pacers after competing in summer league for the Sixers. He still keeps in touch with teammates, including Holmes, and the assistant coaches. Poythress wants to soak up as much as he can on the Pacers and take on a utility man-type role. “Put me wherever you need me,” he said. “Bring energy, defend, rebound, hit open shots, all that stuff.”