The Sixers' first game of the 2016-17 regular season and the first of Joel Embiid’s career is in the books.
The Sixers lost, 103-97, to the Thunder in a closely-contested game that came down to the final minute. The two teams were separated by two points or less for nearly the final four minutes of the game. Ultimately, the Sixers fell scoreless in the last 50 seconds as the Thunder pulled away for the win.
The Sixers led by six, 87-81, with 5:30 left in regulation, but Oklahoma City closed the game on a 22-10 run.
Embiid exceeded his 20-minute restriction to clock 22:25. He scored a team-high 20 points (6 for 16 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 7 for 8 from the line) to go with seven rebounds, two blocks, four turnovers and four fouls (see 10 observations).
Thunder All-Star guard Russell Westbrook recorded a double-double. He led all players with 32 points (11 for 21 from the floor, 1 for 2 from three, 9 for 11 from the line), 12 rebounds and nine assists. He scored nine points in the final 4:09 of the game to help Oklahoma City finish the Sixers.
Inside the box score
• Point guard Sergio Rodriguez posted 12 points, nine assists and zero turnovers in 31 minutes.
• Shooting guard Nik Stauskas scored 13 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
• Forward Dario Saric, also making his NBA debut, shot 2 for 12 from the field for five points in 27 minutes.
• The Sixers blocked 10 shots, led by Richaun Holmes' game-high three.
• The game featued 13 lead changes and seven ties. The Sixers' largest lead was 11 in the first quarter.
Sixers' regular-season firsts
The Sixers’ first basket/assist: Alley-oop dunk from Rodriguez to Gerald Henderson (you know, the play everyone — or no one — expected to see).
Embiid’s first stat: A defensive rebound off a Westbrook missed jumper 19 seconds into the game.
Embiid’s first bucket: A 16-foot turnaround jumper with 8:17 remaining in the first.
Saric’s first field goal: With 8:51 to go in the first quarter, a 21-foot jumper off a pass from Rodriguez.
Okafor’s first minutes: 7:47 left in the first quarter, subbing in for Embiid. Okafor scored eight points in 16 minutes.
Sixers’ first three: Henderson from Saric 1:14 into the first.
Jerryd Bayless (left wrist soreness), Nerlens Noel (inflamed plica in left knee) and Ben Simmons (Jones fracture in right foot) did not play. Simmons spoke about his injury before the game (see story). Embiid was originally planned to be limited to 20 minutes, Okafor 12 to 14.
The Sixers will host the Hawks on Saturday in an early afternoon game at 12:30 p.m.