Second loss in a row for the Pelicansafter a series of five consecutive victories, beaten at Philadelphia by the Sixers (120-111), who thus take their revenge after the victory of Zion Williamson and his band in the first run at New Orleanson the night of Friday to last Saturday.
A Zion Williamson, precisely, who held his rank (26 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists), but could not do much against Joel Embiidthe latter shamelessly trampling the paint of the Pelicans, with 42 points and 11 rebounds.
More generally, the match was very qualitative offensively, the two teams exceeded 48% success in shots, with lieutenants and “role-players” who showed themselves in their best days on both sides (32 points for the bench Sixers, 31 for that of the Pelicans).
In a meeting with little focus on defense, and whose final gap was quite small, the difference for the Sixers was behind the arc and on the free throw line, Doc Rivers’ men scoring four shots winners and seven free throws more than their opponents.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– A good return from Tyrese Maxey in front of his family. Injured on November 18, the Sixers “dragster” made his comeback at the end of last week, precisely against the Pelicans, in Louisiana. This second round against Willie Green’s men marked his return to his home crowd. Applauded upon his entry, since he remains in a role of sixth or seventh man for the moment, the former Kentucky compiled 12 points and 2 assists. Clumsy and sometimes in a rush (5/14 on shots and 3 ball losses), he was however important in the fourth quarter, scoring a winning shot and two baskets near the circle to help his team repel the Pelicans in end of game.
– Joel Embiid won the clash of the titans. Faced with a very good Zion Williamson too, but unfortunately left definitively just over six minutes from the end because of a right thigh alert, the Cameroonian was once again sparkling, he who since the start of the season is an MVP trophy contender. With great accuracy in shooting (15/24 in shooting, including 2/3 from behind the arc), he of course did most of his damage in the paint, where he scored 26 of his 42 points, without forgetting 10 free throws (out of 10 attempts), pushing the opposing pivots to commit a lot of faults (6 for Jonas Valanciunas, 4 for Willy Hernangomez and 3 for Jaxson Hayes).
TOPS & FLOPS
✅ James Harden. In a very good dynamic since his return at the beginning of December, the leader of the Sixers did not go far from chaining a fifth double-double in a row, with 27 points and 8 assists. More of a playmaker than ever before in his career, ‘The Beard’ is the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Joel Embiid, as defenses have to ‘choose their poison’ when he decides to attack the circle rather than to serve as the pivot. He also, as usual, made a good harvest on the repair line: 8/10.
✅ Georges Niang. A reliable shooter (40% from behind the arc this season on 5.6 shots per game), the former Jazz strong winger is a sober, sometimes underestimated, but very important element of the Sixers attack, whose heart is the pick-and-roll between James Harden and Joel Embiid. During this match, he fulfilled his role as an archer perfectly, converting 5 of his 9 attempts behind the bow! Not to mention 5 rebounds and 4 assists, to sign a very good “all-around” match.
⛔️ Devonte’ Graham and Jose Alvarado. The two substitute leaders of the Pelicans were disappointing, bringing, in total, only 2 small points in relay of a good CJ McCollum (26 points and 6 assists). Even if they compiled 8 assists, their performances were not up to par.
– Sixers (22-14) : reception of the Pacers, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday (01:00)
– Pelicans (23-14) : reception of the Rockets, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday (02:00)