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



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.

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