By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to end their first three-game losing streak of the 20-21 NBA season. As they faced the Houston Rockets in a primetime match-up. They finally got back to their winning ways thanks to a strong performance from the three-point line. They blasted Houston 118-113.
The Sixers weathered an early first quarter storm from the Rockets where they hit three consecutive three-pointers and got out to an early six-point lead. Philly was able to battle back thanks to a strong performance by forward Tobias Harris, center Joel Embiid, and guard Seth Curry. Harris picked up right where he left off on Monday. He scored 21-points, and grabbed 12 rebounds. He picked up his scoring in the first two quarters, to help Philly grab a 23-point lead heading into half-time. Philly needed the scoring from him as at times Embiid looked like his back was clearly still bothering him.
Despite being clearly hobbled, Embiid still scored 31-points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and had nine assists. While that’s not the usual scoring effort that people have become use to. His scoring wasn’t needed in this game. As the floodgates finally opened from beyond the arc.
Philly hit 12/23 three-pointers tonight. They hit 52.2% of their threes. Three of those shots were hit by Curry. He scored 25-points. He took advantage of the increase opportunities with guard/forward Ben Simmons not playing tonight because of stomach flu. Curry was able to be a threat from the perimeter. When the Houston defenders would run him off the three-point line. He would attack the paint, and if he can continue to be a valued fourth option for Philly. That could unlock the scoring for Philly.
Houston continued to fight and were able to cut Philly’s lead to five-points. This run was powered by guard John Wall. He scored 26-points. He continued to attack the Philly defenders from the paint and from the perimeter. The Sixers were able to use some tough perimeter defense to keep the Rockets at bay. At one point you could be forgiven for thinking it was the Syracuse Orange out there playing Houston. As Philly employed the use of a two-three zone to stifle the Rockets.
This unlocked guard/forward Matisse Thybulle. Who forced the Rockets into some early turnovers and was able to get 4 steals. Thybulle is arguably one of the best defenders on the team, and he got an opportunity to show his skills as he started tonight in place of Simmons. He will also need to continue to improve his offensive game to continue to give Philly a valuable option off the bench.
On Thybulle’s defense, “When you’ve got Matisse in the game, I feel like [zone’s] our best defense. I feel like he has the potential to be the best defender in the league… I think he has a chance when it comes to All-NBA defensive teams,” said Embiid.
Philly now gets a night off before facing the Chicago Bulls on Friday. They will need to continue to improve their perimeter defense to keep Chicago guard Zach Lavine in check. They will also need another strong shooting night if they want to beat the hungry Bulls.