What a night for Ben Simmons.
The All-Star point guard hit his first NBA three and willed the Sixers to a 109-104 win over the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.
New York’s lead was as large as 17 in the third quarter, but Simmons’ took over the game defensively and Mike Scott got red hot in leading the comeback.
Josh Richardson (hip) was out for Wednesday’s game.
The Sixers improve to 9-5 and will host the Spurs Friday night.
Here are observations from the win.
Admittedly, nobody knew Simmons would pull the trigger on a three Wednesday night, but it was an aggressive offensive start for the All-Star point guard.
On the first possession of the game, Simmons got veteran Taj Gibson on a switch. Simmons backed him down before taking a short fadeaway in the lane. Brett Brown has talked a lot recently about wanting to see Simmons attack, but that teams have just closed off the paint defensively.
This could help that cause …
BEN SIMMONS CORNER THREE.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 21, 2019
CAN I GET A HELL YEAH?
Marc Zumoff's call of the first official Simmons three is incredible. pic.twitter.com/eqFT116tRn
He buried that thing. No hesitation and nothing but nylon. It’ll take more than just one make from three to keep defenses honest, but it’s a nice start.
On a night when the Sixers weren’t very good defensively, Simmons was excellent and helped stop the bleeding in the third quarter. With all the talk about his offensive struggles, nobody can deny how Simmons has played on the other end. He was otherworldly Wednesday.
He finished with 18 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds, a block and a steal.
Tough shooting night for Embiid
Despite Joel Embiid’s early shooting struggles, he appeared intent on getting every Knicks frontcourt player fouled out. First it was Gibson, then it was youngster Mitchell Robinson, then Bobby Portis. Despite that dominance, Embiid hit just 3 of his first 10 shots. He did have four assists and just one turnover in the first half.
Embiid mixed it up with Philly native Marcus Morris late in the first half. As Tobias Harris was hitting a midrange jumper, Embiid and Morris were fighting for position underneath. Morris pulled Embiid down by the shoulder and took him to the ground. Both players got up quickly and had words for each other, but the situation did not escalate as the players on the floor and the officials intervened.
Each player was hit with a technical and Morris was called for a Flagrant 1. These players have a history going back to when Morris was with the Celtics and he taunted Embiid in Game 4 while Boston had a 3-0 series lead.
Embiid went just 7 of 19 for the game but had 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
Up and down Harris
Harris had sort of an uneven game. He hit his first two shots — a corner three on his first touch and then a midrange jumper curling around an Al Horford screen. He then missed his next five shots before hitting 2 of his last 3 to end the half.
He took just two shots in the second half, but made a huge and-one bucket on a drive late in the fourth.
Just a beauty from Tobias Harris. pic.twitter.com/YgRbKqqZ5T— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 21, 2019
At practice Tuesday, Harris talked about his desire to get to the line more and you can see the concerted effort to draw contact. He’s simply not getting calls. He mentioned that he’s not a flopper and that could be hurting him. He might be right.
Horford and Korkmaz have nights to forget
Horford’s offensive struggles continued early on in this one as he went just 3 of 11. With the Knicks’ slew of power forwards, the Sixers made an effort to get Horford the ball in the post, but the veteran big still couldn’t get shots to fall. He was a team-worst minus-15.
They also didn’t get much out of Furkan Korkmaz tonight. Starting in place of Richardson, Korkmaz wasn’t hitting shots (1 of 5) and was having a tough team on defense. Brown was forced to go to Shake Milton early on in the second half.
Once again, the Sixers’ pick-and-roll defense was poor as guards Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. combined for 30 points. Eventually, Brown had to go to Simmons on Ntilikina to stop the bleeding.
Ennis the Menace is back
As Brown continues to sort his rotation out, James Ennis has stood out over the last few contests. Ennis was really struggling with his shot to start the season and it seemed to leak over into the rest of his play. Lately he’s been giving them a strong spark defensively and continues to clean up on the offensive glass.
This was an outstanding finish in traffic that showed off his athleticism.
Along with Simmons, Ennis was a huge part to the Sixers’ third-quarter run. He finished a team-high plus-15 and added 11 points.
Scott has been a steady reserve for the Sixers all season. On Wednesday, you saw what happens when the man gets hot.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BEE KIDDING ME, MIKE SCOTT. 🐝— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 21, 2019
He lands yet another triple to put the Sixers in front by 3. pic.twitter.com/6fxtvCMzuT
He made all four of his threes in the second half and played tough defense against the Knicks’ physical forwards.
Brown hinted that we might see Milton come off the bench following his assignment in Delaware that saw him play for the Blue Coats just last night. Milton was mostly a positive, showing off his ability to move without the ball and also his craftiness on a lefty finish in the second quarter.
Trey Burke continues to get the nod over Raul Neto as the team’s backup point guard. Since Neto struggled in Orlando, it appears Brown wants to give Burke a longer look. Against his former team, Burke hit a three and showed off his “waterbug” ability with a couple nice drives. He also took a huge charge in the fourth quarter.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.