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Sixers to focus on another strong effort vs. Pistons

Jan 8, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) is defended by Detroit Pistons guard Alec Burks (5) in the first half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers will look for a two-game sweep over the visiting Detroit Pistons when the teams meet Tuesday night for the second time in three days.

Playing without Joel Embiid (sore left foot), the Sixers cruised past the host Pistons 123-111 on Sunday.

Embiid has missed the last three games and remains day-to-day.

“I have no idea, honestly,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said when asked when Embiid will return. “I really don’t, and I don’t focus (on it). I think you know that by now.”

James Harden more than picked up the slack with 20 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds against the Pistons for his 71st career triple-double.

Tyrese Maxey scored 23 points and Montrezl Harrell added 20, but Harden was the catalyst throughout the game.

“That’s what he’s done,” Rivers said. “When he does that, he’s — I hate the example, but I keep keeping using it — he’s scoring Magic Johnson. When he runs our team with pace, and scores, and assists, we’re really good.”

Harden struggled in the previous game against the Chicago Bulls, shoting 4 of 17 from the field in a 126-112 loss. To be fair, the whole team scuffled in the surprising home setback.

Harden didn’t let the loss linger.

“Just try to have a bounce-back,” he said. “Last game was a little bit frustrating for me, but I wanted to come out here and have a really good overall game. I think, as a team, we did that.”

Philadelphia’s P.J. Tucker also sat out Sunday’s game with a non-COVID illness. Tucker, who has been hampered with a pinched nerve in his right hand, continues to receive physical therapy. His status for Tuesday also is to be determined.

The Pistons will look to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they visit Philadelphia.

Detroit is playing without Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, due to surgery on his left shin. Jalen Duren (ankle) and Marvin Bagley III (hand) were also out Sunday.

The result was another loss for the Pistons (11-32), who have the most losses of any team in the league.

“I kind of feel like we let our foot off the pedal and got lost defensively,” said Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds. “We gave up some easy ones and shot ourselves in the foot.”

Killian Hayes led the Pistons with 26 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20, but they were unable to overcome 23 turnovers that led to 23 Sixers points.

Already short-handed, the Pistons are fully aware that they must play a cleaner game at Philadelphia.

“It hurt because we can’t afford to give up those points,” Stewart said. “We’re not a good enough team to turn the ball over that many times and be able to win the game.”

Perhaps a road game for the Pistons will help. They actually have more wins on the road (six) than they do at home (five).

While the season has been a struggle, coach Dwane Casey sees a glimmer of hope.

“I think our focus has been good on the road trips,” he said. “The lock-in has been there. I’ve been pleased with our road play, and somehow, someway we have to transfer that back once we get home.”

–Field Level Media