It would’ve been less than ideal for the Sixers to enter their upcoming tests against the Raptors and Celtics having lost four of their past five games.
Wednesday’s 131-109 win over the Knicks ensures the Sixers enter those games with a bit of positive momentum.
Ben Simmons had his fourth triple-double of the season, with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Joel Embiid had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Jimmy Butler posted 20 points in a comfortable win that puts the Sixers at 21-12.
• Heading into Wednesday night, here were Joel Embiid’s stats in the first and second halves of games:
First halves: 15.2 PPG/51.9 FG%/35.5 3P%/plus-15.4 net rating
Second halves: 10.9 PPG/42.1 FG%/21.3 3P%/minus-2.8 net rating
If second halves didn’t exist, Embiid would be the clear frontrunner for MVP.
True to form, Embiid had 16 points on 7 for 9 shooting and five rebounds in the first half Wednesday.
At the start of the second half, the Knicks briefly got back into the game in part because Embiid settled for contested jump shots and didn’t play with nearly the same level of energy as he did in the first half. He had eight points on 3 for 8 shooting after halftime.
• In response to Embiid’s early dominance, the Knicks began sending aggressive double-teams at him late in the first quarter. Credit the Sixers’ big man for quickly identifying the open man and hitting him, as he did on Furkan Korkmaz’s four-point play with 1.1 seconds left in the first quarter.
FOUR FOR FURKAN. pic.twitter.com/QStaI0tEfA— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 20, 2018
• Unlike Embiid, Simmons didn’t settle for anything in the third quarter. He came out after halftime with a no-nonsense mentality.
Simmons picked up a technical foul with 8:15 left in the third for arguing a no-call in which Noah Vonleh appeared to hit Simmons on the arm as he went up for a shot, but that didn’t deter him from driving hard to the rim.
YOU GET A SLAM, YOU GET A SLAM, EVERYONE GETS A SLAM.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 20, 2018
Ben Simmons goes for a back-to-back slam with Embiid and the hug between him and Joel after will melt your heart. pic.twitter.com/7bWe4CNjDt
• Butler started out strong offensively, which was a welcome change for the Sixers. Butler didn’t score in the first quarter against either the Cavs on Sunday or the Spurs on Monday, but he was in attack mode early vs. the Knicks. Butler made his first four shots and had eight points in the opening period.
Headband Jimmy dunks, we'd like more of that please.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 20, 2018
Butler works to get to the rim to slam for a pair and the Sixers lead by two. pic.twitter.com/RJdMrSwbST
• JJ Redick reached 10,000 career points in the second quarter with a jumper from the left wing.
Get you some friends who are as proud of your career milestones as the Sixers are of JJ Redick's. pic.twitter.com/BMHwAUmsvV— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 20, 2018
He’s only been a Sixer for a year-plus, but Redick is a core part of the team. His perpetual off-ball movement, three-point shooting and lethal two-man game with Embiid are all key components of the Sixers’ offensive identity. Redick has also served as a mentor to rookie Landry Shamet, who head coach Brett Brown has called a “mini-JJ.”
• Shamet had a very impressive game on both ends of the floor. The rookie had a career-high 17 points on 6 for 10 shooting, and this was the best defensive game from him in recent memory. He had a nice block on fellow rookie Kevin Knox in the first quarter and competed well when switched onto bigger post players.
• The Sixers’ collective rebounding effort was stellar. Enes Kanter’s offensive rebounding was featured in the pregame scouting video playing in the Sixers locker room, and the focus on keeping him off the glass was evident. Kanter, who had five offensive rebounds in the Knicks’ loss to the Sixers on Nov. 28, had none on Wednesday. Overall, the Sixers outrebounded the Knicks by a 51-35 margin.
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