76ers

Sixers sweat out a win over Knicks and end skid on road

Sixers sweat out a win over Knicks and end skid on road

BOX SCORE 

The Sixers’ six-game road losing streak is over thanks to a 90-87 win Saturday night at Madison Square Garden over the New York Knicks. It was certainly not an easy victory.

Tobias Harris’ three-pointer with 27.7 seconds left gave the Sixers the lead.

Marcus Morris’ heave from near half court at the buzzer to tie the game went off the back rim. 

The win moves the Sixers to 28-16 this season and 8-14 on the road. 

Here are observations from the game: 

The same story for Simmons 

Ben Simmons, as he’s made a habit of doing lately, started in attack mode. 

He shifted gears very well. He drew two free throws off a Furkan Korkmaz ball screen in the first quarter by picking the right occasion to drive when the Knicks hedged. In the second, he took advantage of the Knicks’ confusion to go right through the heart of their defense. 

It probably doesn’t need to be said because he has shown it so often, but Simmons always seems on the verge of a highlight in transition. 

Yet again, Simmons was much less effective on offense after halftime and especially so in the fourth quarter, when he was scoreless. He scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half and has now scored 20-plus points in four straight games. 

It’s understandable that Simmons isn’t the focal point of the Sixers’ offense in the second half, but the team needs him to be a little more of a threat to score late in games. He was too deferential in the fourth, content to run the called play and then wait for something to happen. 

Make no mistake, though: Simmons was the Sixers’ best player Saturday. He had eight assists, no turnovers and two steals. 

Furkan’s on fire 

Friday night was all about Korkmaz. He scored a career-high 24 points, made six threes and even took a charge in the fourth quarter on the Bulls’ Zach LaVine. His confidence didn’t wear off during the commute to New York.

Korkmaz had eight points in his first stint, dropping in a floater before hitting one three from the right wing and another from the left. 

He made his next shot, too, absorbing contact from Allonzo Trier and converting a four-point play early in the third quarter, and he followed that up by running a sharp two-man game with Al Horford and driving smoothly to the rim. 

Korkmaz finished with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting. 

They’ll take it … 

This was far from the Sixers’ finest performance.

They only managed 38 second-half points, allowing the 11-32 Knicks to stay competitive. Josh Richardson was too careless with the ball, turning it over seven times. Harris shot 5 for 13. New York had 12 offensive rebounds, while the Sixers only had five. 

All that said, earning a road victory for the first time since Dec. 23 was important. Heading into Monday’s game in Brooklyn (3 p.m./NBCSP), what matters the most for the Sixers is just that they found a way to win away from Wells Fargo Center. 

Scary moment with Horford

Horford went down after being fouled by Reggie Bullock with 6:31 left in the third quarter, and he appeared to be holding his left hand as he went to the bench.

Though Horford didn’t play well in New York (four points on 2 of 9 shooting), a serious injury to the 33-year-old obviously would have been big. 

The Sixers are a massive team, but losing Horford would have tested their depth and perhaps forced Simmons to play minutes at center.  

Another start for Thybulle 

Matisse Thybulle, who started for the third straight game, still regularly makes plays that, as they unfold, are hard to believe.

The speed with which he closed out on Reggie Bullock and swatted his shot early in the third quarter was impressive.

Thybulle has a rookie-high 51 steals and 32 blocks in 36 games. 

Guaranteed entertainment 

Two-way player Norvel Pelle was back with the Sixers on Saturday night.

The 26-year-old rookie sure looks like he has NBA skills in his shot blocking and screening and rolling. It will be interesting to see how his situation shakes out. 

If nothing else, he is highly entertaining to watch. 

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Sixers vs. Hawks: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers vs. Hawks: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The shorthanded Sixers (35-22) will look to get right against the Hawks (17-41) at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night.

The Sixers come into the matchup with an NBA-best 26-2 mark at home but will have to contain the dangerous Trae Young.

Here are the essentials for tonight’s game:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

The injury bug has struck

It appeared the Sixers could be set up to go on a run after the All-Star break. Their schedule was softening up, they acquired two more players for depth and they were healthy.

So much for the healthy part.

We already know Ben Simmons will be out as we await the results of more testing on the lower back injury he irritated Saturday night in Milwaukee. 

It appears the Sixers could be down another starter as Tobias Harris will be listed as questionable — upgraded from doubtful — with a right knee contusion. Harris landed awkwardly during a drive against the Bucks and immediately grabbed his right knee. Through the rest of the game, Harris looked to be favoring the knee. The 27-year-old is a gamer, but it’s fair to wonder if he should’ve continued to play, especially once the game appeared to get away from the Sixers.

Simmons and Harris have been two of the team's most durable players. Simmons has played 214 of a possible 221 games during his three-year career. Harris is the only Sixer that’s played in all 57 games this season. He’s played at least 80 games in each of the previous three seasons.

All about Embiid

With his teammates banged up, it’s time for a (mostly) healthy Joel Embiid to step up. After the team’s win over Brooklyn last Thursday, Embiid said he was “the best player in the world.” On Saturday night, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s play did the talking.

To Embiid’s credit, he has been playing at another gear over his last few games. He had a tough night from the field against the Bucks (5 of 18), but the second quarter — the only period the Sixers won in the game — showed how the team can play around Embiid when the All-Star center is focused and running rim to rim.

He scored 12 points, going 3 of 8 from the field and 6 of 7 from the line. That was the Sixers’ best quarter against Antetokounmpo as well. Embiid held the Greek Freak to just five points and the Sixers were within six at the half.

With newcomer Clint Capela out (plantar fasciitis), Atlanta will have to rely on veteran Dewayne Dedmon and rookie Bruno Fernando to try to contain Embiid. Count on Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, a former Brett Brown assistant, to aggressively double Embiid all night.

Young locked in

Young is dangerous and looking to play spoiler with the Hawks well out of the playoff picture. In his two games since the break, the All-Star guard has put up 75 points and 18 assists combined in wins over the playoff-bound Heat and Mavericks.

The biggest thing the Sixers will have to focus on with Young is not fouling. In the last matchup in Atlanta, Young was 18 of 20 from the line. With Simmons out, it’ll likely fall on Josh Richardson and rookie Matisse Thybulle to try to contain him.

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Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons out for Hawks game with back injury, will have additional evaluation Monday

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons out for Hawks game with back injury, will have additional evaluation Monday

Ben Simmons went through an initial evaluation on his back Sunday in Philadelphia, will have an additional evaluation Monday and is out for the Sixers’ game tomorrow night vs. the Atlanta Hawks, a team source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news.

Simmons missed Thursday’s game vs. the Nets with lower back soreness and irritated the injury in the first quarter Saturday night against the Bucks. 

Head coach Brett Brown said Thursday that Simmons was injured at the team’s practice Wednesday.

“It was a play where he went up for a rebound and I looked over and he left the court, and went and got treatment,” Brown said. “And it has played out as it has played out. We don’t believe it’s anything too significant.”

After drawing a foul on Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez with 7:21 left in the first on a running hook shot, Simmons put his hands on his knees and appeared in discomfort. He stayed in to make 1 of 2 free throws, and the Sixers then had Matisse Thybulle commit a foul to stop the game and allow Simmons to return to the locker room.

Before Saturday, Simmons had been averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists this season in a team-high 36.3 minutes per game. The two-time All-Star has an NBA-best 115 steals. 

Simmons had entered the All-Star break strong, with a 26-point triple-double in the Sixers’ Feb. 11 win over the Clippers. 

He’d posted 20.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game in the final 18 contests before the All-Star Game, shooting 68.9 percent from the foul line during that stretch. When Joel Embiid was out with a torn ligament in his left ring finger, Simmons had carried the Sixers to a 6-3 record. 

With 25 regular-season games remaining, the Sixers are 35-22 and fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. They have a 26-2 home record, best in the NBA, and a 9-20 away mark that’s the worst of any team currently in a playoff position. The team’s remaining schedule is the easiest in the league.

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