76ers

Instant Replay: Sixers 116, Mavericks 74

Instant Replay: Sixers 116, Mavericks 74

BOX SCORE

It was the luck of the Sixers on St. Patrick's Day.

The Sixers completely dominated the Mavericks, 116-74, in Nerlens Noel's first game back to Philadelphia. This was the Sixers' largest margin of victory since Jan. 30, 2008, when they beat the Bucks, 112-69, per Basketball Reference. The Mavs' 74 points were the fewest scored by a Sixers' opponent this season.

The Sixers took an 11-point lead over the Mavericks at halftime after dominating the entire second quarter. They outscored the Mavs, 36-16, in the third and led by as many as 43 in the fourth.

Noel scored nine points with five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in his return after being traded to Dallas. He checked in with 6:45 to go in the first quarter and appeared nerved up early on. Noel committed a turnover and missed a fast-break alley-oop. Still, he settled in and logged nearly 19 minutes off the bench.

Noel wasn't the only person involved in the trade … and Justin Anderson made that known. Anderson scored a team-high 19 points with eight rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes. He wasted little time draining his first shot of the game, a three, against his former team. His hustle play included this one-handed putback dunk off a Nik Stauskas miss. 

The Sixers snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Mavericks. They improved to 25-43. The playoff-hunting Mavericks dropped to 29-39.

Holmes starts
Brett Brown based his starting center on the Mavericks' lineup. Richaun Holmes got the nod because the Mavs started Dirk Nowitzki. Brown felt the more athletic-minded Holmes would be better suited to defend Nowitzki, who spreads the floor. 

When Noel checked in, Jahlil Okafor did, too. Finally, Noel and Okafor were able to share the court.

Inside the box score
• Robert Covington scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

• Holmes scored 17 points, including 15 in the first half. He started off the game 7 for 7 from the field and finished 8 for 11 with seven rebounds in 20 minutes.

• Sergio Rodriguez scored 13 points off the Sixers' bench.

• Dwight Powell led the Mavericks with 14 points as a reserve. Only two other players scored in double digits: J.J. Barea (11 points) and Nowitzki (10 points).

• The Sixers focused on the glass after Salah Mejri beat them on the boards in their last game. They outrebounded the Mavs, 55-34.

Noel 'thank you' video
The Sixers showed their appreciation for Noel's three-plus seasons with the organization by putting together a video that aired during a first-quarter timeout (see video).

Have a seat
T.J. McConnell found himself with an unexpected seat in the crowd during the third quarter. He picked off a Mavericks' pass, threw it to Covington and landed in a chair courtside. They're really quite comfortable, so not a bad spot to end up.

Up next
The Sixers will host the Celtics on Sunday afternoon before departing for a five-city road trip, starting in Orlando on Monday.

Is Joel Embiid's trash talking starting to get old?

Is Joel Embiid's trash talking starting to get old?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Paul Hudrick and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com producer/reporter Matt Haughton.

In this edition, we examine whether Joel Embiid’s trash talking is starting to get old.

Hudrick
Let’s just let Joel be Joel.

The guy came over from Cameroon, knowing very little about the game and getting teased by his teammates in high school. After overcoming that and landing at Kansas, injuries took away the end of his only season there and then his first two NBA seasons. He was the brunt of jokes as the Sixers continued to lose and he had to watch from afar. He’s earned the right to feel himself a little bit.

What I see is a kid having fun. I have to give Philly fans credit. Flamboyant characters don’t usually do well here. In a city that (still) obsesses over the play of a quiet, hard-nosed guy like Chase Utley and has fallen head over heels for the humbleness of Carson Wentz, Embiid doesn't fit the mold. But he's been embraced and beloved.

Here’s the other thing: he’s backing it up. If he was out there talking trash but shooting 30 percent from the field and not running down the reigning MVP for a blocked shot in a triple-OT game, that would be a different story. He’s put this team on his back and has them poised for a playoff berth.

Let the man live.

Haughton
Absolutely not.

First, look at it from a team perspective. The Sixers thrive off of Embiid’s emotion. Look no further than Friday night’s triple-overtime thriller against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Sixers were sleepwalking through that game for much of the night until Embiid mixed it up with Carmelo Anthony following an and-one with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter. Embiid got the crowd juiced up and his teammates fed off that energy during the critical 11-0 run to close out regulation.

When Embiid’s trash talk spills over to social media, he does try to keep things light and playful. That’s his personality and that’s his realm, so none of what he’s doing really comes from a position of genuine malice.

On the bigger scale, this is what the NBA has been about long before Embiid came long. From Larry Bird’s bravado to Michael Jordan’s ruthlessness to Shaquille O’Neal’s blatant disrespect of opponents, the league has a long list of trash talkers.

As LeBron James said when the Cavaliers came through the Wells Fargo Center right after Thanksgiving, players today are just too sensitive.

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

'Dots don't connect' for Sixers on inbound confusion

Of all the scenarios that transpired over the Sixers’ triple-overtime loss to the Thunder on Friday, there is one moment that stands out.

Fast-forward to the end of the second overtime. The Sixers had the opportunity to take the final shot after Dario Saric grabbed a defensive rebound. Joel Embiid motioned for a timeout before Saric put the ball on the floor. 

The Sixers huddled and prepared for a half-court play they had practiced before, confident they could execute it with 1.2 seconds on the game clock.

However, as they went to set up, the officials told them the inbound was actually full court. Saric had dribbled the ball before the timeout was called, they were told. That change wiped out the play they had initially planned. 

“They asked us what side of the floor did we want to advance it to, and so we told them,” Brett Brown said. “We drew up a play to try to score. Then we walked out and they said no you can’t advance it, it goes full court. When you look at the tape, you can see Joel and myself calling a timeout with 1.2 seconds. They said Dario dribbled, yet there were still 1.2 seconds. The dots don’t connect.”

The last-second shift in inbound position left the Sixers scrambling. Embiid said the team was “caught off guard.” Ben Simmons considered the call to be “huge.” 

“We weren’t told that we couldn’t progress the ball up the floor until we actually had to run the play,” Simmons said. “That kind of messed us up. We got into a late play, which didn’t convert.” 

The Sixers didn’t connect on their final possession. There’s no guarantee the shot would have gone in, but they would have been prepared to get a good look. 

“[It changed] everything,” Robert Covington said. 

Instead of pulling off a last-second game-winner, the Sixers went into triple overtime. They were edged out by two points, 119-117 (see game recap)

"That kind of like messed up in our minds, but that’s not an excuse," Embiid said. "We shouldn’t have an excuse for losing that game."