After a long West Coast swing that included drama, illness and a clunker in Portland, the Sixers were happy to be home.
They were shorthanded and a little slow getting started, but fought off the Mavericks for a 106-100 win at Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.
With Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler still out with an upper-respiratory infection, the Sixers still managed to keep Rookie of the Year favorite Luka Doncic in check on their way to a victory.
Much like the game in Phoenix, the team was led by the trio of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick, who combined for 65 points. The win improves the Sixers to 17-3 at home and 26-14 overall.
Here are observations from the win.
• You have to give Simmons credit. The kid is at least trying.
On the first offensive possession of the night, he took and swished a fadeaway jumper.
A Simmons jumper to get this game going!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2019
Sixers take the first bucket of the game. pic.twitter.com/VDnKUKuqi0
He then took two more jumpers in the first half. Both were misses — one was particularly bad — but hey, it’s progress. He swished another fadeaway in the fourth quarter. That's 2 for 4 on jumpers. The only way to make them is to take them and it's good to see Simmons gaining the confidence to do so.
Overall, Simmons was assertive and aggressive. He took a team-high 12 field-goal attempts in the first half. He also notched his sixth triple-double of the season with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
• Jonah Bolden continues to impress. Brett Brown said after practice Friday that Bolden earned regular minutes during the Sixers’ West Coast trip.
He’s doing so by supplying athleticism and activity — he had nine rebounds (three offensive) and two blocks Saturday. He also broke double digits for the first time in his NBA career with 11 points.
Defensively, his ability to switch one through five really stands out. Speaking of …
• The rookie sensation Doncic struggled mightily, going just 4 for 16 from the field for 14 points. Bolden on Friday mentioned that he had played Doncic twice last season overseas with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and that experience seemed to pay off Saturday night.
Brown used a combination of Bolden and Simmons on him. Not many teams have those kinds of long, athletic players that they can throw at Doncic. Even fellow rookie Landry Shamet held his own against Doncic.
• Embiid was relatively quiet, which for him is 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. He did produce two highlight-reel plays.
This on the defensive end.
And this pretty alley-oop from Simmons.
OOP THERE IT IS.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2019
Ben and Jo putting on a show, as usual. Sixers up early, 22-12. pic.twitter.com/cjKFyvuvbv
He also elicited "M-V-P" chants from the crowd while hitting a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter.
• Brown acknowledged the elephant in the room pregame, discussing the ESPN report that Butler “aggressively challenged” him from Friday in great detail.
Brown spoke with reporters for roughly 20 minutes and defended himself, his team and Butler adamantly (see story).
• Villanova product Jalen Brunson struggled in his return to the Wells Fargo Center, going just 4 of 14 from the field.
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