76ers

Sixers 109, Pistons 99: Joel Embiid's 32 1st-half points lift Sixers to win

Sixers 109, Pistons 99: Joel Embiid's 32 1st-half points lift Sixers to win

BOX SCORE 

After all the trash talk and drama of their last meeting, Joel Embiid took his matchup with Andre Drummond very seriously. Embiid was determined to make their battle Saturday afternoon a one-sided feud. 

Embiid scored 39 points and pulled down 17 rebounds as the Sixers beat the Pistons, 109-99, to improve to 6-4 and a perfect 6-0 at home. His 32 first-half points set a Wells Fargo Center record. 

• Within the first three minutes, Embiid did the following:

-Blew past Drummond for a dunk, then gave him a nice, long staredown.

-Picked up an early technical foul for some contact after the whistle on Blake Griffin.

-Converted an and-one with a nifty, left-handed finish against Drummond.

-Beat Drummond down the floor for a transition alley-oop, courtesy of Ben Simmons.

-Forced Drummond to the bench with two early fouls.

The rest of the half was more of the same. Embiid scored the first seven points of the game and the first eight points of the second quarter. Just about every Embiid touch was a guaranteed basket or Pistons foul. Drummond had three fouls and Zaza Pachulia four in the first 15 minutes of the game. 

After going 18 for 23 from the foul line against the Pistons, Embiid has now attempted 99 free throws, 32 more than any other player in the NBA. 

With another 30-point, 10-rebound performance, Embiid joined a pretty impressive list. 

As for Drummond, he had eight points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes. Not his best day. Round 3 is Dec. 7 in Detroit. 

• Wilson Chandler made his Sixers debut, posting four rebounds and four fouls in nine minutes. Brett Brown said pregame the team is going to be cautious with Chandler as he works his way back from a left hamstring strain so that restriction might not go away quickly. Chandler will start out as Robert Covington’s backup, but down the line, Brown said he thinks he can play at shooting guard through power forward, even center in extreme situations. 

• With Chandler returning, it looked like rookie Landry Shamet might be the odd man out. But if Shamet keeps playing as well as he has been, it’s going to be impossible to kick him out of the rotation.

Brown spoke very highly of Shamet Friday, praising his maturity, shooting and defensive effort, and all those qualities were on display vs. Detroit. 

Shamet knocked down a couple threes in the first half and converted an easy layup off a beautiful backdoor cut in the third quarter. He scored 11 points on 4 for 7 shooting. The Sixers outscored the Pistons by 13 points when Shamet was on the floor.

• Just like Thursday night against the Clippers, the Sixers let the opposition cut into a big halftime lead, as Detroit scored 13 straight points to start the third quarter. That’s obviously not a major concern when you win, but it was an issue last season that the Sixers won’t want to become a trend this year. 

The fact the Sixers extended their lead in the third quarter with Simmons and Embiid sidelined by foul trouble and Markelle Fultz and Shamet in the backcourt is encouraging. 

The Pistons trimmed the deficit to as few as five points in the fourth period, but the Sixers avoided a terrible collapse, thanks in part to pivotal three-pointers from JJ Redick and Mike Muscala.

• Though Fultz didn't have a great offensive game — four points on 1 for 6 shooting and three assists — he continues to make strides defensively. In the Sixers’ loss to the Pistons on Oct. 23, Brett Brown preferred T.J. McConnell over Fultz because he trusted McConnell’s experience and defense. 

Saturday, Fultz’s defense was far from a liability. His instincts for how to guard ball screens are improving and his effort has been excellent. He’s also showing off his athleticism more on that end of the floor, making highlight plays.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

It sounds like Brett Brown has a long-term plan without Ben Simmons in mind

Updated: Tuesday, 5:09 p.m.

We now have a diagnosis on Ben Simmons' injury. Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia (see story). Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news.

Speaking before the Sixers' win Monday night over the Hawks, head coach Brett Brown was unsure how long the injury would sideline Simmons. The 23-year-old sustained the injury at practice Wednesday going up for a rebound, according to Brown, and irritated it in the first quarter of Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “And it really is like how long is a piece of string — who knows? Who knows? … Whatever the time equals on days, games, period of time, we can talk more honestly as this thing shakes out.”

However, it sounded as if Brown was preparing for his two-time All-Star point guard to be out for a while. He framed the situation as one the Sixers can cope with if other players take advantage of the chance to play expanded roles.

There’s 25 games left. … It’s an eternity,” he said. “Just keep going back to the end game. What’s the bottom line? I’ll say it again — if you get their health and their spirit, it’s got a chance to equal form. … And it’s all about landing the plane. And so with 25 games left, we’ve taken a hit with Ben. 

"I do see it this way. I’m not spinning it. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and something will emerge. And we need something to emerge. It’s not like we were all saying, ‘Oh, here it is, it’s anointed.’ It wasn’t that. So, I think we’re going to learn something and find something. If this was six games out, I wouldn’t be telling you this story. When it’s 25 games out, it is, with all my heart, what I think. That’s what I said to the team, that’s what I really think and that’s what I’m going to try to pull off.

Who specifically will take over ball handling duties? Brown said it “will be done by committee” for the time being, and he named a few players who he expects to be in that mix. Monday night, the team started Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. 

“The candidates could be Raul Neto or [Furkan Korkmaz] or Alec Burks or J-Rich, Shake," he said. "So, you have capable people that aren’t traditional point guards but have the ability to get the ball up the floor. Then at that point, you’re probably going to have to be in something that has motion and continuity instead of just giving Chris Paul the ball and saying, ‘Go to work’ out of a pick-and-roll, as an example.”

Regardless of Brown’s attitude, the tangible impact of not having Simmons will clearly be significant. He leads the league in steals, has assisted on the most three-pointers and is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player.

The loss of all those attributes will no doubt be difficult to overcome.

“When there is a vacuum, as there is right now with Ben, something will happen,” Brown said. “Somebody will step up. I’m trying to see the world through those eyes, and I really do — it’s not even creative coach speak. I see it as an opportunity, and I think I need to see it that way.”

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.

More on Sixers

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement in lower back

Sixers injury update: Ben Simmons suffered nerve impingement in lower back

Ben Simmons suffered a nerve impingement in his lower back and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. Simmons will undergo daily treatment. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the news. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports “there's little expectation that [Simmons would] be ready to return to lineup that soon,” and says “doctors are hopeful treatment can drive improvement, but Sixers are preparing to play without him." 

According to head coach Brett Brown, Simmons was first injured at the team’s practice last Wednesday. The 23-year-old All-Star missed the team’s first game after the All-Star break, a win Thursday over the Nets. 

“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 Thursday. “And it has played out as it has played out. We don’t believe it’s anything too significant.”

Simmons sat out the Sixers’ game vs. the Nets on Thursday and played Saturday in Milwaukee. He appeared to be in discomfort after drawing a foul in the first quarter on the Bucks’ Brook Lopez. The 23-year-old stayed in the game to make 1 of 2 free throws, then exited when Matisse Thybulle committed a foul to create a stoppage of play and ensure Simmons could return to the locker room.

Ahead of the game against the Bucks, Simmons had averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds and a league-best 2.2 steals. He’d played 36.3 minutes per game, most on the Sixers and third-highest in the NBA ahead of Saturday’s games. 

Brown talked before the Sixers’ win Monday over the Hawks as if he was prepared for a long-term absence. He said the team would split up ball handling responsibilities by committee, with Shake Milton, Josh Richardson and Alec Burks among the possible candidates. Milton started on Monday. 

The 36-22 Sixers are fifth in the Eastern Conference and play the Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Cleveland. 

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.

More on the Sixers