BOX SCORE

Phew.

The Sixers bounced back from a beatdown by the Blazers Saturday to narrowly defeat the Pelicans, 111-110, at Smoothie King Center Monday night.

The Sixers have won two of three while Joel Embiid has sat with left knee soreness. The All-Star center is expected to be re-evaluated this week. 

The win puts the Sixers at 39-22 overall.

Here are observations from the dramatic, bounce-back victory.

• After being bullied on the glass against Portland Saturday, the Sixers outrebounded the Pelicans, 58-54. They also were much better defensively, holding New Orleans to 42 percent shooting. New Orleans' lack of offensive talent certainly helped, but the Pelicans' trio of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle were mostly held in check Monday night. 

The only thing that even kept New Orleans in the was game was the 20 turnovers the Sixers committed.

• Ben Simmons took his second legitimate NBA three. New Orleans sagged way off of him and he tried to make them pay. It was a little strong, but it didn’t look awful.

In general, Simmons picked up where he left off against the Blazers, when he scored a season-high 29 points. He was aggressive and did his damage in his usual areas on the break and in the post.

The version of Simmons we’ve seen the last three games is the version the Sixers need when Joel Embiid gets back in the lineup. He’s always better when he’s attacking and looking for his own shot. He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds but just two assists.

• The thing Tobias Harris may do best is knowing how to go at the player defending him. He’s already a matchup problem at 6-foot-9 with skills. He takes bigger players off the dribble and punishes smaller defenders in the post. He seems to have a knack for exposing his defender's weaknesses. He recorded a Sixers-high 29 points (10 of 16) and nine rebounds.

While nobody will ever praise Harris as an All-NBA defender, he did an excellent job tonight against Randle. Randle can be a handful in the post, but wound up shooting just 5 of 17 for 17 points.

• Brett Brown made the decision to start Jonah Bolden against Anthony Davis and we got the entire Jonah Bolden experience.

There were a few nice defensive plays (two blocks), he attacked the glass (six rebounds) and made a three. He was also undisciplined at times and picked up four fouls in the first half and his fifth in the third quarter. Overall, it was a fine performance from the rookie.

You can also see the best way to use Boban Marjanovic. He’s good in spurts and in the right matchups. Putting him out there against Davis would’ve been a defensive nightmare. Getting him in the game against Jahlil Okafor was a fine matchup as Marjanovic scored 12 points on 6 of 8 from the field.

There is definitely one stat Marjanovic leads the league in: Entertaining plays.

Unfortunately, Marjanovic had to leave the game with 1:05 left in the fourth. The Serbian big man had to be helped off the floor after Cheick Diallo landed awkwardly on his right leg.

• There’s been a lot of talk about Jimmy Butler’s aggressiveness offensively lately, but it seems a bit overblown. Even when he was “the man” in Chicago, he was more of an efficient scorer than a high-volume shooter.

 

He took more shots in this one than he did Saturday, but he struggled from the field overall (5 of 16). The most overlooked thing Butler has brought is his playmaking ability. He had seven assists against New Orleans and seems to have found a role initiating the offense on the second unit. Butler does a great job picking his spots and you shouldn't expect that to change.

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