Exhaustion catches up to Sixers in 3OT classic

Exhaustion catches up to Sixers in 3OT classic

BOX SCORE

There’s free basketball, and then there’s triple overtime.

The Sixers lost in triple (count it, one, two, three) overtime to the Thunder, 119-117. Patrick Patterson blocked JJ Redick’s attempt at a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds to seal the win Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid reached his goal of playing 48 minutes, albeit after regulation. Ben Simmons and Redick each clocked over 50. 

The Sixers played beyond regulation for the second straight game. The last time they reached triple overtime was Nov. 20, 1992, against the Heat. 

• So what exactly can Embiid do in 48 minutes? Well, 34 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two monster blocks. Embiid fell hard twice in the third quarter but stayed in the game in spite of his recent back injury. He missed last Sunday’s game because of back tightness. Embiid got in the mix with Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams throughout the game. He waved goodbye when Adams fouled out.

• Russell Westbrook recorded his 10th triple-double of the season and 89th of his career with 27 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists in 52 minutes. Westbrook shot 0 for 7 in the fourth as the Sixers closed out regulation on an 11-0 run. He scored six of the Thunder’s eight points in triple overtime. Westbrook’s biggest highlight of the game, from a Sixers fan’s perspective, happened when he missed a pair of free throws in the third. An opponent going 0 for 2 from the line means everyone in attendance gets a free Wendy’s Frosty. 

• Just like in Tuesday’s game, Simmons was quiet through three quarters. However, he made shots when they counted, including a game-tying dunk from Embiid (his assist partner against the Timberwolves) with 53.1 seconds to go. Simmons closed in on a triple-double with 12 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds (see highlights).

• Anthony (24 points) turned back the clock the night before his return to Madison Square Garden. Anthony, who isn’t hesitant to throw up 20 shot attempts (and imagine how many he would have gone for in triple OT with the Knicks), was an effective 11 for 17 from the field in 47 minutes. He is averaging 6.5 field goals made per game in his first season with the Thunder. 

• Trevor Booker suffered a sprained left ankle in the third and did not return to the game. X-rays came back negative, so it’s a wait-and-see situation as to whether the newly acquired reserve misses any time. 

• Robert Covington’s shooting performance in regulation was cold like the weather outside. He shot 4 for 21 from the field (3 for 15 from three) in his first game since taking a nasty fall on his back last Saturday in Cleveland. 

Have to wonder how much he was impacted by the snow delays. Covington’s commute took more than twice as long and he arrived to the arena about an hour before game time. Players are very routine and Covington didn't get to warm up for as long he as he normally does. This, of course, is not an excuse. But this isn’t the first time a player has had an off night after being delayed. Covington ended up with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double. 

Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

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AP Images

Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

Updated 5:28 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid will play tonight as the Sixers need all hands on deck to defend Russell Westbrook.

The big man's status was uncertain leading up to the game because of back tightness. Embiid missed Sunday's game against the Pelicans with the issue but played a career-high 39 minutes on Tuesday in the Sixers' overtime win against the Timberwolves. 

Embiid was on the court after shootaround draining threes barefoot. He commonly puts up shots without shoes.

The Sixers will require a total team effort against Westbrook. They will have their top perimeter defender Robert Covington back in the lineup after he missed the last two games with a lower back contusion.

Brett Brown will try different looks on Westbrook, but one thing is already known: There's no clear-cut formula to contain the reigning MVP. 

"Russell Westbrook demands a team to guard him," Brett Brown said Thursday. "He comes at you with such cocky aggression. How about the athlete that we're seeing and the mentality of that athlete? It is bizarre to me. That is a fierce, competitive person that just doesn't seem to get tired ... He's amazing to me. He really is amazing to me." 

Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game this season. All those stats don't really project much considering he's capable of going off for 30, 40 points any given night. He scored 30-plus points in three of his last five games. 

Even though the Thunder are below .500 (13-14), the Sixers are not ignoring the offseason additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Veteran scorers cannot be overlooked, regardless of a team's record heading into the game. 

"[Westbrook] is a special player in our league and he's going to be tough to contain one-on-one so it's going to be a group effort tonight," T.J. McConnell said. "Even with the other two, Carmelo and Paul George, it takes a team and following your principles and playing hard. That's all you can really do." 

• The Sixers will wear their red Statement Edition uniforms tonight for the first time. The jerseys were designed to reflect the history of the franchise and the city of Philadelphia. "Sixers" is written in cursive for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

• The Sixers are unveiling a sculpture of Maurice Cheeks in front of their training complex in Camden. Cheeks is now an assistant coach for the Thunder. The point guard was a member of the 1983 championship team and earned four All-Star selections with the Sixers. Cheeks' sculpture will join those of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham already on "76ers Legends Walk."

Ben Simmons takes 4 families on holiday shopping spree

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Photo courtesy of Sixers' Twitter account

Ben Simmons takes 4 families on holiday shopping spree

Four families gathered in a roped-off waiting area adorned with Sixers decor inside of a Philadelphia Target store. They were told they were getting a surprise Thursday evening, but they didn't know who or what until a car pulled up outside ... and Ben Simmons walked through the door.

Simmons gave each family a $1,000 shopping spree right then and there. The room erupted in cheer.

"Beautiful," a mother exclaimed at the news. One child put his head in his hands in disbelief when he saw Simmons. Another said, "This is the best day ever."

"It's one of those things I always wanted to do growing up," Simmons, who came up with the idea for the shopping trip on his own, said. "It's the perfect time, season of giving. It just means a lot for me to be able to do this for some families."

The towering 6-foot-10 point guard walked through the store on Monument Road with each family and helped them choose their gifts along the way. 

They headed straight to the toy section, where the children piled in Legos, dolls and anything else that grabbed their attention. Then it was on to electronics. One child filled his cart with video games and a gaming system. Another family selected a television and soundbar. 

Shopping carts accumulated quickly as the kids ran in and out of aisles with bright smiles on their faces.

"Seeing them pick out what they want, not having to worry about it, I think that was the biggest thing," Simmons said. "It was a great time. I had a lot of fun, can't wait to do it next year."

The recipients were selected through Unity in the Community, a nonprofit organization based in South Philadelphia. Each had been through tough times in the past year and this trip helped to put the happy in their holidays.

"They can enjoy it now," Simmons said. "It's great for them to have no worries, especially on Christmas."