Sixers

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. 

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."

Robert Covington (back) to return for Sixers' game vs. Thunder

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USA Today Images

Robert Covington (back) to return for Sixers' game vs. Thunder

Robert Covington kept his wish list very simple when asked by Joel Embiid what he wanted for his birthday.

“A ‘W’ tomorrow,” said Covington, who turned 27 on Thursday.

Realistically, the swingman will be happy just getting back on the court. Covington is expected to play after missing the last two games of the Sixers’ road trip following a scary back injury he suffered during last Saturday’s 105-98 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With 1:08 remaining, Covington attempted to save a ball near the sideline before he tumbled out of bounds and over the courtside seats near the Cavaliers’ bench. He kept falling off the four- to five-inch dropoff from the Quicken Loans Arena court to the ground and hit a metal object as he landed. Covington walked off the court with help from his teammates and was labeled with a lower-back contusion.

Now a few days of rest and rehab has him ready for a return in Friday’s home matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s feeling good,” Covington said of his back after Thursday’s practice at the Sixers’ training complex. “The past few days, I’ve done a lot of rehab, acupuncture stuff. My back today, I felt really great. … I felt great coming into practice. Acupuncture yesterday, did a lot of movement, a lot of stuff that really opened up my back so I feel really good today.”

Covington’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Sixers. 

Sure, a team can always use a player that has averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and shot 42.7 percent from three-point range this season. However, it will be Covington’s defense that will come in handy the most against the dangerous Thunder trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Whether Covington comes out strong or struggles to find a rhythm after his injury, the Sixers will still be happy just to have him back on the floor healthy.

“It’s his birthday today, so he looked a little bit older. But he looked good,” head coach Brett Brown said.