76ers

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons give All-Star efforts in Sixers' win vs. Clippers

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons give All-Star efforts in Sixers' win vs. Clippers

BOX SCORE

There was very little to boo about at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.

After a couple days of drama, the Sixers played one of their finest games of the season in a 110-103 win over the Clippers at Wells Fargo Center.

The win improves the Sixers to an NBA-best 25-2 at home and 34-21 overall. It also sends them on a three-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break.

Here are observations from the win:

Everyone makes peace

Much had been made of Joel Embiid and Al Horford shushing the crowd in back-to-back games. Embiid’s cryptic tweeting didn’t help things.

Embiid didn’t receive a strong reaction either way during pregame introductions, but he did get the crowd into it early. He gathered an offensive rebound, put it back in and was fouled. He then raised his arms to the crowd, which elicited a huge applause.

All was forgiven.

As for Horford, he came off the bench for the first time since his rookie year in Atlanta. When he checked into the game in the first, he was actually met with cheers. He then hit a trail three a few seconds into his run and also got an ovation. Horford had a strong night overall with nine points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 28 minutes.

Embiid and Simmons … fitting?

Embiid and Ben Simmons aren’t a perfect fit on the court, but with how immensely talented they both are, Brett Brown is trying everything to make it work. He ran a ton of an action he calls “snug” — it’s basically just a pick-and-roll in the post with Simmons as the ball handler and Embiid as the screener. It’s tough to create space in such a tight floor spot, but both players got a few decent looks off it.

In general, it seemed like both players were looking for each other more than usual. Embiid got plenty of post touches and it truly looked like the offense was running through him. The Clippers use only one true center in Ivica Zubac and Embiid took advantage with 26 points (8 of 17) and nine rebounds.

For good measure, he also got into yet another shoving match with Philly native Marcus Morris late in the fourth. As the refs reviewed the play, Embiid yet again implored the crowd to get louder and they obliged. He blocked a Morris layup attempt not long after.

As for Simmons, turnovers had always been an issue in his matchups with Kawhi Leonard. He committed just three, but continued his recent downhill, attacking style of play with his sixth triple-double of the season: 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

It was one of the finer performances the All-Star duo has had together in their young careers.

J-Rich and Harris step up

Tuesday marked the first time Tobias Harris had played the Clippers since they sent him to the Sixers at last year’s trade deadline.

Harris looked more like the player the Sixers traded for and then re-signed to a near-max contract this summer. He was looking for his shot from the beginning. He took a couple aggressive off-the-dribble threes and even scored on a pure isolation play — a couple things he hasn’t done much here.

He nearly ended Montrezl Harrell on this drive.

Despite not having the best shooting night, he was good in this one with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

This was also the biggest offensive impact Josh Richardson has had since returning from a six-game absence because of a left hamstring strain. He hit a couple huge shots in the fourth quarter to keep the Clippers at arm's length, including a huge and-one drive on Leonard. Richardson had 17 of his 21 points in the final period to help put the game away.

In general, the offense looked smoother. Whether it was the change in the starting lineup or just a mindset, the ball moved better and there appeared to be more open looks.

The defense looked awfully good, too

Richardson also showed his value defensively tonight. He did an outstanding job on Paul George. Rookie Matisse Thybulle also did well on his possessions against George. The perennial All-Star had a rough night, going 3 of 15 for 11 points.

Leonard might be a superhuman, but Simmons deserves credit for at least making him work all night. Leonard had 30 points (12 of 23) and nine assists but had to earn all of it.

Overall, the Sixers’ defensive intensity was there and just as importantly, so was their communication and help defense. The Clippers’ torrid three-point shooting (14 of 31) kept them in the game, but it was a strong effort on that end all night.

Suddenly, there are options

Brown used 10 players on Tuesday. Not because he was desperately looking for someone, but because he actually has guys that look like useful basketball players.

The red-hot Korkmaz started the first half and was fairly quiet, going just 0 of 5 in 23 minutes. Glenn Robinson III started the second half  — likely for defensive purposes — and was solid on both ends.

Tuesday also marked the debut of Alec Burks. What stood out is that he has what Brown calls a “scorer’s mentality.” He got his first basket on a midrange jumper off a Horford screen. He also had a nice behind-the-back pass to Simmons off a pick-and-roll. He had just two points, but you can see that once Burks develops chemistry with his new teammates, he’ll add something.

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Sixers Home School: Allen Iverson's 55-point playoff performance is worth reliving

Sixers Home School: Allen Iverson's 55-point playoff performance is worth reliving

There's a lot of home schooling going on right now, so why not use some of this time to learn more about the history of your favorite teams? In this edition of Sixers Home School, we look back at the night Allen Iverson set a Sixers single-game playoff scoring record. 

Allen Iverson wasn’t known for being efficient, but he sure was in the opening game of the 2003 playoffs.

He scored 55 points against the Hornets on 21 for 32 shooting (10 of 11 from the foul line), and also had eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. It’s tied for the sixth-most points ever in an NBA playoff game and is still the most by a Sixer — Wilt Chamberlain scored 56 in 1962 as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. It doesn’t look like a record that will be broken anytime soon, with no player on the current Sixers roster ever having scored more than 49 points (Joel Embiid) in an NBA game. 

Let’s highlight six plays from the video above: 

At the 1:50 mark, Iverson finds a trailing Keith Van Horn, who knocks down a three-pointer. That would be the only three a Sixer besides Iverson made in the game. The other Sixers combined to shoot 15 for 45 (33.3 percent), and that mark was boosted by a 6-for-9 performance by Aaron McKie off the bench. This is a game the Sixers would have lost if Iverson was anything other than great. 

''I didn't know what it would take for us to win,'' Iverson told reporters. ''Just playing the game like it was my last, that's the only thing I thought about and the only thing I think about before every game.'' 

3:58: Just listen to the “Ohhh!” from the crowd as Iverson dishes a leaping behind-the-back pass to Tyrone Hill, then waits a couple of seconds before finding Hill for a dunk. The fans were entranced.

4:10: The simplicity here catches your eye, and it’s familiar to anyone who watched Iverson in his prime on the Sixers. End of the quarter, give him a ball screen, let him go to work. He does just that, sinking a contested long two. Though he’d probably be pushed to shoot less of these kind of shots if he played in the modern NBA, his ability to use a screen and make something happen would be valuable in any era. 

9:06: Iverson played off the defense’s expectations and took advantage of the attention he received very well. Here, McKie loops up to the top of the key and Iverson almost looks like he’s a high school football star again for a second, juking Stacey Augmon. With Augmon expecting him to move toward the baseline off Kenny Thomas’ screen, Iverson instead darts down the lane and lays it in off McKie's pass. 

10:01: Marv Albert exclaims “What a move!” here, and he’s not wrong. With that said, notice how Iverson, after rejecting Van Horn’s screen, gives Augmon a little shove with his left arm to create space. Though he was at least half a foot shorter than Augmon, the skinny Iverson was excellent at shielding off defenders and even pushing them out of his air space when he thought he could get away with it. 

11:14: The Sixers are up six up with 17.9 seconds to go — it’s clear they’re going to win the game at this point. Iverson has just scored points 54 and 55 by driving past former teammate George Lynch and floating the ball in over P.J. Brown off his right foot. He closes his eyes, raises his arms, puts a hand to his ear and proudly displays the "Sixers" logo on his chest. Though the Sixers would ultimately fall in the next round to the Pistons, losing Game 6 in overtime, this was the kind of night that made you believe Iverson could again carry the Sixers on a deep run. 

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Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford has donated $500,000 to support coronavirus relief in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he's played for a team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Horford’s father Tito was the first Dominican-born NBA player, and Al was born in the country. The family later moved to Michigan, where Horford attended Grand Ledge High School. He went to the University of Florida and has played for three NBA cities — Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Several other members of the Sixers organization have also made charitable donations during the coronavirus pandemic. Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COV-19 medical relief efforts. Ben Simmons launched “The Philly Pledge,” an initiative which encourages donations to Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Fund that’s received support from a wide range of Philadelphia athletes, among them teammates Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok. 

Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have made several donations related to coronavirus relief, including to Philabundance and to CHOP and Cooper Hospital.

Limited partner Michael Rubin aims to have his company Fanatics produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

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