Covington breaks out of slump, Sixers hold off Pistons’ rally

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers (13-9) nearly let one get away from them tonight, but they were able to recuperate late and earn the victory against the Detroit Pistons (14-8) by a final score of 108-103. There were a couple of storylines heading into this one, so let's just go ahead and address those first.

This marked the second regular season match-up this year between Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond. Since the last meeting, Embiid had made remarks about Drummond's inability to play defense and shoot. Meanwhile, Drummond fired back earlier on Saturday telling the media that Embiid can talk to him when he plays a full season and doesn't need to take games off. The two big men squared off and while Drummond's night on the stat sheet was probably better, Embiid's team ended up winning. Drummond finished with an impressive line of 14 points (4-8 FG), 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Drummond spent a chunk of the second quarter getting his shoulder tended to on the bench. He fouled out late in the fourth quarter on a somewhat questionable blocking call.

Nonetheless, Embiid taunted Drummond as head headed towards the bench after his sixth foul and the Sixers closed out the game. Joel didn't have his best night offensively, shooting just 7-for-21 and committing six turnovers, but he finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 11 of 12 from the charity stripe. Following the game, Embiid and Drummond embraced and Joel told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Molly Sullivan that in the end, the "beef" between him and Drummond is all just fun. All in all, the one-on-one match-up didn't really live up to the hype. Following the game, Embiid joined NBA TV to talk about who he believes is the best big man in the league. The answer won't surprise you.

Besides Embiid vs. Drummond round two, another story going into the game was Robert Covington's shooting slump. Needless to say, he's doesn't seem to be in that slump anymore. Covington caught fire from the field, scoring 25 points on 8-for-19 shooting from the floor to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals to his stat line. 

As a whole, the Sixers starters were effective. J.J. Redick scored 18 points and Dario Saric had a gritty 17. Ben Simmons, on the other hand, had an off night offensively, scoring just five points to go along with 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

Back to the game, the Sixers came out of the gates firing, getting out to a seven-point lead after one quarter. They got out to a 63-47 lead at halftime, but that dissipated in the third quarter thanks to some sharp-shooting from Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson. Detroit outscored Philadelphia 33-17 in the third, locking things at 80 a piece heading into the final quarter. 

Ben Simmons was called for a flagrant foul on an inbound play in the fourth with 7:37 remaining and the Pistons up 88-86. After Stanley Johnson made the free throw to put the Pistons up three, the Sixers responded with a 17-6 run to go back up by eight with less than two minutes to play. Detroit wouldn't get any close than four the rest of the way, and the Sixers emerged victorious, 108-105.

Tobias Harris led Pistons scorers with 27 points (9-15 FG, 3-6 3ptFG) while Reggie Jackson had 25 (9-13 FG, 2-3 3ptFG). 

The Sixers are off on Sunday before hosting the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.