By Sean McBryan, Sports Talk Philly staff
The Philadelphia 76ers (3-4) got their revenge on the Houston Rockets (5-3) to the tune of a 115-107 victory. The Sixers came out focused and ready to claim vengeance for the heart-breaking buzzer beater at the hands of Eric Gordon last Wednesday in Philly.
But boy, did they make things more difficult than they had to be.
The Sixers looked to set the tone in the opening quarter, coming out with some up-tempo basketball and 37 points.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons each scored eight points in the quarter. But the real difference maker was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who hit two three-pointers and had 11 points.
James Harden scored 13 of the 27 points for the Rockets in the first.
The Rockets fought back in the second, outscoring the Sixers 29-21. Dario Saric and Eric Gordon became involved from deep this quarter. Gordon had caught fire and scored 15 points. Saric had 8 in the second.
Embiid was his usual self in the post and on the defensive side of the ball, hitting contested mid-range jumpers and altering shots at the rim.
The Sixers led the Rockets 58-56 at halftime.
In the third, the Sixers seemed to take control of the game, as T.J. McConnell showed his value off the bench with gritty play and three-point shooting (?!?!?).
Embiid made a few nice passes and a step-back jumper before Amir Johnson replaced him with 8:15 left in the quarter.
Johnson churned out some rare, quality playing time. He finished the night with 12 points and 10 boards off the bench in 21 minutes on the court. He also shot 60-percent from the field (6-10).
Robert Covington had some key defensive plays in the quarter which seems to be the norm nowadays. Ro-Co had four steals and a block to go along with his eight rebounds.
The Sixers had a comfortable 92-80 lead heading into the fourth.
Oh this will be easy, a 12 point lead with 12 minutes left! Wrong.
I guess a comeback by the perimeter happy Rockets was expected and I was just in denial thinking the Sixers could easily close out a victory.
Houston cut the score to 106-105 with 3:06 remaining.
I was thinking, "Alright, they can score here and go up by three!" Nope.
Embiid turned it over to Harden, who tried to get an alley-oop pass to Clint Capela and just couldn't finish.
Embiid hit a hook-shot, McConnell blocked Harden, Simmons muscled and yammed over P.J. Tucker and the Sixers ended up with a 115-107 victory.
Before getting into statistical leaders, I'd like to mention that Simmons was one of four from the foul line in the last two minutes. The team also had a bad turnover (shot-clock violation) with 1:23 left. Just a few things that need to be cleaned up for these close wins to become more common.
Speaking of turnovers, the Sixers had 21 (!!) for the game. That's a lot. The Rockets weren't much better with 15.
Philadelphia's defense showed up today, limiting the Rockets to a 39.8% from the field and 27.7% from three. The Sixers shot very well, 55% and 41.7%.
Now, what everyone wants to know, how'd Simmons do? He was on the verge of another triple double finishing with 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. The guy can play.
Embiid finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in only 25 minutes. He, along with Simmons, can also very much play.
Saric had 14 points and six boards. TLC had 17 off the bench in only 17 minutes. McConnell didn't miss a three and finished with 11 points.
Johnson, TLC, and McConnell combined had an even better-looking night, combining for 40 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals, two blocks and shot a combined 58.3-percent from the field, 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Harden had 29 and Gordon had 25 for Houston. Capela added 12 points and 15 boards.
Other than turnovers, it was a good night.
The Sixers will look to extend their winning streak to three games when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.