In the Bonus | 01.26.18 vs Spurs

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

The following notes and nuggets were taken from the 76ers’ January 26th 97-78 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Click here for a complete recap of the game, and be sure to check out our post-game pod below:

Bonus Points:

• Heading into Friday’s meeting with San Antonio, Brett Brown was willing to bet that, in the end, how the Sixers ultimately fared in two specific statistical categories - turnovers and fouls - would have significant bearing on the final score. He wasn’t wrong. En route to earning arguably the signature win of the Brown coaching era, the Sixers committed a season-best 10 turnovers, and were assessed just 20 fouls, a low total by the team’s standards. Going into the night, the Sixers ranked third-to-last in the NBA with a rate of 22.7 fouls per 100 possessions.

• Sticking with the turnover theme for one more bullet point item here, the Sixers only gave the ball away once in Friday’s entire first half.

• Actually, we lied. This will be the final turnover-related nugget of this article…

For the second time this season, Joel Embiid went without a turnover in a game, the other instance being a December 4th home match-up with the Phoenix Suns. Based on Friday’s social media activity, the stat appears to be one the big man takes great pride in.

• Following Friday’s win, Joel Embiid discussed being drafted to Team Stephen for this year’s All-Star Game. The 7-footer will start at center for the squad assembled by Golden State’s two-time MVP.

“It’s great,” said Embiid. “I didn’t expect which team I was going to play on. Steph is a great shooter. [Team Stephen] has a couple shooters. Klay [Thompson] is in there, and James Harden is the midrange guy. It’s going to be fun. I’m going to go out there, and I’m definitely going to compete. That’s my nature.”

• For the second time this month, and 13th time overall this season, Ben Simmons turned in a 20-point performance (his 21 points versus San Antonio was his highest total since going off for 26 points January 3rd against...the Spurs). Among his rookie peers, the Australian point man trails only Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (22) and Los Angeles’ Kyle Kuzma (15) in 20-point showings.

• San Antonio tried using a handful of players to defend Ben Simmons throughout Friday’s game. None had any real success against the first-year phenom, who, for a second straight game, was keyed in from the opening tip. Kyle Anderson began the night covering Simmons. Simmons had 10 points and 5 assists by halftime. In third quarter, the Spurs turned to Danny Green, but Simmons continued to have his way. That didn’t change down the stretch, when close friend Dejounte Murray was given the task of trying to guard him.

• Attacking the lane and basket with a constant wave of explosive, strong drives, Ben Simmons enjoyed the most efficient shooting performance of his young career, going 10 for 11 from the field. He’s now one of six different players this season to put up at least 11 shots in a game, and miss only once.

Stingy first quarters are becoming a routine thing to highlight these days, because, well, the Sixers are making them a routine thing. Their last three games against Memphis, Chicago, and San Antonio, the Sixers have spotted the opposition 19, 16, and 13 first-quarter points, respectively. The 13 points yielded to the Spurs in Friday’s opening frame matched a season-low for the Sixers.

It was nice to see T.J. McConnell back in uniform Friday. The third-year point guard had to miss Wednesday’s home game against Chicago for personal reasons. In his return, he didn’t skip a beat, posting 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists, without commiting a turnover. McConnell generated a stellar plus-8 rating in 24 minutes of action.

• Evident early on in Friday’s contest was just how much of an advantage the Sixers were able to create with their running game. Triggered by tenacious rebounding, an active defense that tracked down loose balls off San Antonio misses, and, of course, Ben Simmons, the Sixers held a 12-0 edge in fastbreak points by intermission, and were plus-8 in fastbreak points (14-6) through three quarters. A future Hall of Famer cited the impact of this aspect of Friday’s game afterwards.

“They’re a good transition team,” said San Antonio forward Pau Gasol. “That’s how they got their first lead early on.”

• Friday’s 19-point win at AT&T Center was not only the Sixers’ largest margin of victory ever in a road game against San Antonio, it was the third-biggest differential in favor of the Sixers in the 93 all-time games the teams have played against each other.

• Further underscoring the rare nature of Friday’s victory for the Sixers was that it was just the 19th time since Gregg Popovich began coaching San Antonio in 1996 that the Spurs were beaten by 19 points or more at home. No Eastern Conference team had defeated San Antonio by that big a margin since the Washington Bullet’s March 17th, 1997 109-85 victory in the Alamo City.

Afterwards, it looked like Pop, who’s won five championships with the Spurs, would survive.

• It was a rocky night indeed for San Antonio from beyond the arc. The Spurs came up empty on their first 14 attempts from 3-point territory, until Bryan Forbes finally hit with 65 seconds to go in the third quarter. The basket started a stretch in which San Antonio converted 3 of 4 3-point opportunities. After that, the Spurs missed their final eight 3-point attempts of the game.

• Justin Anderson notched his second straight 12-point performance Friday. The total tied his season-high output, and provided further evidence that the third-year swing man is hitting his stride following an injury absence (shin splints) that lasted six weeks. For the week, he scored 32 total points in three games, while shooting 14 for 21 overall, and 3 for 7 from three.

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