76ers

Sixers 118, Hornets 114: JJ Redick stars as Sixers escape with win

Sixers 118, Hornets 114: JJ Redick stars as Sixers escape with win

Updated: 1:02 a.m. 

The Sixers beat the Hornets Tuesday night in Charlotte, 118-114, extending their season-high winning streak to five games.

It wasn't as simple as it sounds. Without Joel Embiid (rest), JJ Redick and Ben Simmons starred, while Jimmy Butler and James Ennis made clutch shots down the stretch to lift the Sixers to a wild victory in a game that had 22 lead changes.

Jeremy Lamb missed an open shot at the rim that would've tied the game and possibly set up for a third consecutive overtime game between the Sixers and Hornets. 

Heading into Wednesday's matchup vs. the Celtics, the Sixers are 46-25, 2.5 games up on the Pacers for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference after Indiana's loss to the Clippers.

• Redick picked up where he left off Sunday (19 points on 7 for 10 shooting) by making his first three field goals, including the opening points of the game on a Redick special — an improbable three-pointer from the left wing that was late in the shot clock, off-balance and very tightly contested. 

A three from the right corner that didn’t disturb any part of the rim gave him 21 points in the first 17 minutes. 

Redick passed Robert Covington for the second-most three-pointers made in a season in franchise history.

Kyle Korver has the record with 226 in the 2004-05 season.

Though Redick cooled off in the second half, he did a little bit of everything Tuesday night. In addition to 27 points, he grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, dished out eight assists, and even took a key charge in the fourth quarter. 

• Sixers fans already have two very good memories of Jimmy Butler in Spectrum Center. After nailing a game-winner in overtime on Nov. 17, Butler (23 points on 8 for 19 shooting) hit a clutch three-pointer from the left corner to give the Sixers the lead with 1:27 to go. 

• The Sixers’ bench badly needed someone to provide a little offense. James Ennis did that and much more. He finished with 14 points on 6 for 9 shooting and nailed two massive threes in the fourth quarter. 

Talk about seizing a role on a team and not letting go — well done, James Ennis. 

• In his last five games, Ben Simmons has just seven turnovers. It’s a nice stat on the surface, but what’s perhaps most encouraging for Simmons is that he hasn’t seriously sacrificed his exceptional open-court skills to take better care of the ball. 

Simmons had a pair of dunks in the first quarter off very convincing dribble handoff fakes.

Though it’s certainly excusable for a player who’s only missed one game this season, it looked like Simmons took off a couple of possessions defensively, allowing his man to beat him on the initial move and not making much of an effort to recover. 

He posted 28 points on an incredible 11 of 12 from the floor, with eight rebounds and five assists.

• Amir Johnson started in Embiid’s place, while Boban Marjanovic came off the bench. The duo combined for four points and four rebounds in 27 minutes. 

Marjanovic didn’t have a good first half. He got beat for a few rebounds and didn't attempt a shot in 10 minutes. If the Sixers are going to try to steal minutes from Marjanovic against centers with some agility who can knock down threes, he needs to win the matchup offensively and on the boards. While you don’t want to force feed him the ball, the reality is Marjanovic needs to score vs. smaller centers like Frank Kaminsky to offset his defensive weaknesses.

Jonah Bolden took Marjanovic’s minutes in the second half, his first action since March 10 vs. Indiana. Though the rookie was understandably not his sharpest and was called for four fouls in his 11 minutes, he’s far better equipped than Marjanovic to guard stretch fives and pick up guards on switches.

Finally, Brett Brown used Simmons as his small-ball center to wrap up the game.

With 11 games to go, who Brown turns to at backup center against Boston should give us a better idea of exactly how willing he is to ride with Marjanovic, and how much trust he has in Bolden.

• After giving up a career-high 60 points to Kemba Walker in November, the Sixers had to be relieved when the Hornets’ star picked up his third foul in the first quarter and took a seat on the bench. 

But the Sixers couldn’t avoid Walker forever. He scored 13 of the Hornets’ 30 points in the third quarter, vaulting Charlotte into the lead. 

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Sixers’ situation becomes bleaker with injury to Joel Embiid, loss to Cavaliers

Sixers’ situation becomes bleaker with injury to Joel Embiid, loss to Cavaliers

Updated: 10:16 p.m. 

The Sixers haven’t won a road game since Jan. 20, both of their All-Stars are injured and, if the playoffs started tonight, they would not have home court advantage. In short, things could be going much better.

Joel Embiid sustained a left shoulder sprain Wednesday night and the Sixers dropped to 36-23 with a 108-94 loss to the Cavaliers. They play the Knicks tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center.

Here are observations on the loss: 

First Simmons, now Embiid 

Embiid grimaced after a collision off the ball with Ante Zizic late in the first quarter, feeling at the area around his left shoulder. He took and missed both free throws after the foul call, seemingly in significant pain, then left the game and went back to the locker room. 

Early in the second quarter, Embiid briefly returned to the bench before again heading to the locker room. After a short conversation with head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson, he appeared to have a discussion in the tunnel with GM Elton Brand, who said before the season that he’d “be more a part of it with the players in a partnership for their care.”

The team announced at halftime that Embiid was out for the game. 

Embiid’s injury is bad news for the Sixers regardless of the circumstances, but it’s obviously even worse in the context of Ben Simmons being sidelined with a nerve impingement in his lower back. 

It was certainly possible to picture an Embiid-centric team thriving without Simmons, especially given that the Sixers have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the league. If both their All-Stars are out for an extended period of time, though, it would be a massive hit.

There are a heap of fair criticisms one can have about the Sixers this season — Brand’s decision to spend as much money as he did on Horford and Harris, other complementary pieces not doing enough, abysmal efforts on the road, you name it. However, having your second All-Star get hurt two days after he scored a career-high 49 points and the day after announcing the diagnosis of your other All-Star’s injury is just very bad luck. 

After the game, Embiid told The Inquirer's Keith Pompey that he will have an MRI tomorrow. 

Secondary options not close to good enough 

With Embiid out, the Sixers needed Harris and Horford to carry a bigger load.

Neither player was up for the task. 

Harris, whose status changed from doubtful to questionable to available for Monday’s game with a right knee contusion, did not look explosive and shot 4 of 13.

Horford made a few nice passes, had three steals and hit two threes, but he wasn’t nearly as good as the Sixers needed him to be, with 10 points in 34 minutes. 

It wasn’t a strong night for Josh Richardson (nine points on 4 of 12 shooting), either.

Norvel Pelle was out for a second straight game with an upper respiratory illness, which led the Sixers to play Kyle O’Quinn as their backup center. In his first action during a close game since Jan. 20, Quinn had six points, four blocks and two rebounds. 

O’Quinn reportedly wanted to be waived, but perhaps Embiid’s injury will shift his thinking. Players must be waived by March 1 in order to retain playoff eligibility in the event they’re picked up by another team that season. We looked at available guards that might be interest the Sixers today (see story).

Milton starts again 

Shake Milton was the Sixers’ starting point guard, as he had been Monday vs. the Hawks.

The 23-year-old didn’t start the game well, allowing Darius Garland to hit his first three shots. Though the defensive drop-off from Simmons to Milton is substantial, Milton was a bright spot offensively, picking the right spots to attack and knocking down 4 of 6 threes. 

He finished with 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. If you’d like a positive in a situation that currently looks rather bleak, Milton is a good choice. 

Richardson and Alec Burks (13 points on 6 of 12 shooting) split up backup ball handling duties. 

A terrible 1st half 

The Cavs scored 30 of the game’s first 36 points in the paint. The Sixers missed a handful of open looks inside early, including a very easy fast break Horford layup attempt off a long pass from Milton. They made just 11 of their first 36 field goals and 2 of their first 12 threes. 

No Sixer played especially well in the first half, and yet the team only trailed by 11 points. With all due respect to the 17-win Cavs, who did beat the Heat on Monday, the deficit would surely have been worse if the Sixers were playing a decent opponent. 

Embiid’s injury played a part in these particular early road struggles, but a team that is 27-2 at home should simply not be 9-21 on the road.

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Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid exits game vs. Cavs with shoulder injury

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid exits game vs. Cavs with shoulder injury

Updated: 10:05 p.m.

Already down Ben Simmons, the last thing the Sixers needed was an injury to their other All-Star.

Joel Embiid suffered a left shoulder sprain and did not return vs. the Cavs, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters. He went back to the locker room with a left shoulder injury after he was fouled by Ante Zizic late in the first quarter in Cleveland. 

Embiid and the Cavs’ big man got tangled up and Embiid came up grabbing his shoulder. He then went on to miss both free throws and grimaced the entire time. Furkan Korkmaz purposefully committed a foul to get Embiid back to the locker room. Embiid briefly came back to the bench, but was then summoned by head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson back to the locker room where it appeared GM Elton Brand was waiting.

After the game, Embiid was wearing a sling on the injured shoulder in the locker room, according to Winters. He'll reportedly have an MRI Thursday, per Keith Pompey of the Inquirer.

The Sixers were already without Simmons, who was diagnosed with nerve impingement in his lower back. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, per a team spokesperson.

The team was also without Norvel Pelle who is dealing with an upper respiratory illness. That left Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn as the only players that can play as true NBA fives. Horford struggled while O'Quinn was solid in his first real action since Jan. 17.

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