The Philadelphia 76ers had little trouble dispatching the depleted Detroit Pistons in consecutive games.
The task will be a bit more daunting when the Sixers host the improved Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.
Joel Embiid led the way with 36 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots in a 147-116 rout of the Pistons on Tuesday. James Harden added his 72nd career triple-double with 16 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds.
“They had tons of guys out. They’re injured,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said of the Pistons. “They’re young, and so, you know, for us, I just thought we had a professional game. We came out and played the right way. Built the lead and got our guys that need to play some minutes, which was great.”
Embiid had missed the three previous games with left foot soreness, so his stellar play had to be encouraging.
Even if it came against a rebuilding team which had a litany of injuries.
“I thought he did great,” Tobias Harris said of Embiid. “I mean, you know, he’s been out, getting himself as healthy as he can be, but he just came out and he was his dominant self as he always is. Obviously, 36 and 11 is a pretty good effort.”
Six players reached double figures including deep reserve Jaden Springer, who had a career-high 10 points.
“I feel like I was trying to make the best of my minutes out there doing what I can,” Springer said. “I feel like I tried to make an impact in the game, and you know I went out there and kind of showed that a little bit.”
The Thunder will look to rebound after a tough 112-111 loss on the road to the Miami Heat on Tuesday.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded 26 points and Josh Giddey had 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists to lead five players in double figures in scoring.
Giddey now has six triple-doubles in his young career.
In a bizarre game, the Heat converted an NBA record 40-of-40 shots from the free throw line.
“If you lose by 15, it doesn’t feel quite like this,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said after his team blew a five-point lead with 1:30 left. “But when you lose by one, it puts the spotlight on every possession and every fundamental. It’s a good opportunity to learn from.”
While the Heat took advantage of the free throws, it continued a troubling trend for the young Thunder.
They have been committing too many fouls, especially costly ones in the fourth quarter.
“That’s been an area of a little slippage on our part the last couple games,” Daigneault said. “I think some of it is we’re trying to juice up the physicality with some of the lineups we’re playing, and fouls are kind of downstream from that. I thought we were sloppy on that end with our hands, especially in the first half, and (Jimmy) Butler is a pro at (drawing fouls) so he makes you pay.”
The Thunder have used 20 different starting lineups in 41 games this season.
–Field Level Media