76ers

Tobias Harris picks up slack for Sixers in win over Knicks with no Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

Tobias Harris picks up slack for Sixers in win over Knicks with no Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

Updated: 10 p.m.

BOX SCORE

Something that’s only happened one other time since the beginning of the 2017-18 season happened Thursday: The Sixers played a game without both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Tobias Harris led the charge as the Sixers took care of business in a 115-106 win over the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center.

Embiid (left shoulder sprain) is expected to be re-evaluated in approximately one week, a team spokeperson said after the game (see story). Simmons (lower back impingement) will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.

The win improves the Sixers to an NBA-best 28-2 at home and 37-23 overall. They embark on a four-game West Coast swing starting Sunday in Los Angeles against the Clippers (3:30 p.m./ABC)

Here are observations from the win:

Picking up the slack

When Embiid went down in Cleveland, the trio of Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson struggled, going just 12 of 35 for the game.

With Embiid and Simmons both out, the Sixers needed Harris to be aggressive and looking to score — and he obliged. He scored 14 of the Sixers’ 26 first-quarter points and had 23 at the half. There was no player on the Knicks that could match up with Harris. He punished their smaller guards in the post and drove on their bigs. He showed off his three-level scoring by also going 3 of 6 from three.

He was outstanding with 34 points (14 of 21), seven rebounds and seven assists. That point total is the most he's scored since he had 34 back on Jan. 15 against Brooklyn and one off his Sixers high of 35.

Like Harris, Horford had a bounce-back game, recording 15 points (including 4 of 4 from three), nine assists and seven rebounds. It’s been a struggle for Horford this season, but the veteran big took advantage of the Knicks using one of their power forwards or the talented but at times undisciplined Mitchell Robinson at the five. 

Richardson’s offensive struggles continued early. In the seven games since Richardson returned from a hamstring injury, he’d averaged just 9.4 points and 37.1 from the field and below 30 percent from three. He couldn’t get it going from the field yet again Thursday, going scoreless in the first half. In the third, we saw Richardson warm up, putting up 10 of his 11 points.

The Sixers are currently even with the Heat for the East's fourth seed, with Miami winning the season series and holding the tiebreaker. The Sixers will need Thursday's performance and then some from these three players to keep pace.

Figuring out roles

Glenn Robinson III made comments to a reporter about not understanding his role. Before the game, Brett Brown had a chance to respond and Robinson was given the chance to clarify his comments.

Robinson got the start against the Knicks and his shooting woes continued (2 of 6). He was brought in from Golden State to be a 3-and-D wing. He still has yet to hit a three as a Sixer (0 of 9) and hasn’t been overly impactful defensively. He’s capable, but we haven’t see it yet as a Sixer.

Shake running the show

Brown hasn’t anointed a permanent starting point guard in Ben Simmons’ absence, but it sure looks like Shake Milton has won the job. The second-year guard continues to be poised and looking more comfortable running the show.

Brown has recently lauded Milton’s defense and we saw some of that Thursday as well. He wasn’t exactly going up against Kemba Walker or Chris Paul, but he still turned in a solid effort. Coming off a 20-point performance against the Cavs, Milton was strong again against the Knicks with 19 points (5 of 5 from three), four assists and just one turnover.

With the second unit, Richardson had another tough night as the backup point guard. It seemed like a role Richardson would be able to fill when the season started, but even newcomer Alec Burks looks like a better option initiating the offense at this point.

O’Quinn gets rewarded

When the Knicks turned to springy big man Robinson at the five, it would’ve made sense for Brown to turn to Norvel Pelle, who was active after the last two games with an upper respiratory illness.

Instead, he went with veteran Kyle O’Quinn, who gave the Sixers solid minutes Wednesday in Cleveland after Joel Embiid went down. O’Quinn was solid yet again, pulling in 10 rebounds in just a little over 14 minutes.

O’Quinn’s future has looked tenuous at best since the veteran big was relegated to fourth on the center depth chart. Much to his credit, he was ready to play against the Cavs and was up for the task against his former team Thursday. 

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Sixers Home School: Allen Iverson's 55-point playoff performance is worth reliving

Sixers Home School: Allen Iverson's 55-point playoff performance is worth reliving

There's a lot of home schooling going on right now, so why not use some of this time to learn more about the history of your favorite teams? In this edition of Sixers Home School, we look back at the night Allen Iverson set a Sixers single-game playoff scoring record. 

Allen Iverson wasn’t known for being efficient, but he sure was in the opening game of the 2003 playoffs.

He scored 55 points against the Hornets on 21 for 32 shooting (10 of 11 from the foul line), and also had eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. It’s tied for the sixth-most points ever in an NBA playoff game and is still the most by a Sixer — Wilt Chamberlain scored 56 in 1962 as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. It doesn’t look like a record that will be broken anytime soon, with no player on the current Sixers roster ever having scored more than 49 points (Joel Embiid) in an NBA game. 

Let’s highlight six plays from the video above: 

At the 1:50 mark, Iverson finds a trailing Keith Van Horn, who knocks down a three-pointer. That would be the only three a Sixer besides Iverson made in the game. The other Sixers combined to shoot 15 for 45 (33.3 percent), and that mark was boosted by a 6-for-9 performance by Aaron McKie off the bench. This is a game the Sixers would have lost if Iverson was anything other than great. 

''I didn't know what it would take for us to win,'' Iverson told reporters. ''Just playing the game like it was my last, that's the only thing I thought about and the only thing I think about before every game.'' 

3:58: Just listen to the “Ohhh!” from the crowd as Iverson dishes a leaping behind-the-back pass to Tyrone Hill, then waits a couple of seconds before finding Hill for a dunk. The fans were entranced.

4:10: The simplicity here catches your eye, and it’s familiar to anyone who watched Iverson in his prime on the Sixers. End of the quarter, give him a ball screen, let him go to work. He does just that, sinking a contested long two. Though he’d probably be pushed to shoot less of these kind of shots if he played in the modern NBA, his ability to use a screen and make something happen would be valuable in any era. 

9:06: Iverson played off the defense’s expectations and took advantage of the attention he received very well. Here, McKie loops up to the top of the key and Iverson almost looks like he’s a high school football star again for a second, juking Stacey Augmon. With Augmon expecting him to move toward the baseline off Kenny Thomas’ screen, Iverson instead darts down the lane and lays it in off McKie's pass. 

10:01: Marv Albert exclaims “What a move!” here, and he’s not wrong. With that said, notice how Iverson, after rejecting Van Horn’s screen, gives Augmon a little shove with his left arm to create space. Though he was at least half a foot shorter than Augmon, the skinny Iverson was excellent at shielding off defenders and even pushing them out of his air space when he thought he could get away with it. 

11:14: The Sixers are up six up with 17.9 seconds to go — it’s clear they’re going to win the game at this point. Iverson has just scored points 54 and 55 by driving past former teammate George Lynch and floating the ball in over P.J. Brown off his right foot. He closes his eyes, raises his arms, puts a hand to his ear and proudly displays the "Sixers" logo on his chest. Though the Sixers would ultimately fall in the next round to the Pistons, losing Game 6 in overtime, this was the kind of night that made you believe Iverson could again carry the Sixers on a deep run. 

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Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford has donated $500,000 to support coronavirus relief in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he's played for a team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Horford’s father Tito was the first Dominican-born NBA player, and Al was born in the country. The family later moved to Michigan, where Horford attended Grand Ledge High School. He went to the University of Florida and has played for three NBA cities — Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Several other members of the Sixers organization have also made charitable donations during the coronavirus pandemic. Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COV-19 medical relief efforts. Ben Simmons launched “The Philly Pledge,” an initiative which encourages donations to Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Fund that’s received support from a wide range of Philadelphia athletes, among them teammates Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok. 

Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have made several donations related to coronavirus relief, including to Philabundance and to CHOP and Cooper Hospital.

Limited partner Michael Rubin aims to have his company Fanatics produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

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