Snapshots | Pacers Spoil Embiid's Big Night
Words: Brian Seltzer
Photos: Kurt Gies, Alex Subers
Joel Embiid did something no player in team history had done in nearly 30 years, but one of the most productive outings of the All-Star’s young career came in vein.
Behind a big second half from the Indiana Pacers (19-10), the 76ers (19-11) bowed, 113-101, in a noteworthy Eastern Conference bout Friday at The Center.
Indiana’s win moved them 0.5 game in front of the Sixers for third place in the standings, and spoiled a memorable showing from Embiid.
The 24-year old finished with 40 points (13-22 fg, 1-6 3fg, 13-16 ft) and a career-high 21 rebounds, becoming the first Sixer to post a 40-point x 20-rebound game since Charles Barkley (40 pts, 22 reb) achieved the feat December 7th, 1990 against the Denver Nuggets.
“It wasn’t enough,” Embiid said of his performance. “It doesn’t matter what I had. At the end of the day, we didn’t come up with the win, and that’s what we want to do.”
JJ Redick provided 22 points (8-19 fg, 4-12 3fg) for the Sixers. Ben Simmons racked up 18 points (7-15 fg), nine rebounds, and four assists.
Turnovers - and, relatedly, the Pacers’ opportunism - had a major impact on the outcome of Friday’s tilt. The Sixers committed 16 giveaways to Indiana’s seven, which led to a 33-12 advantage for the Pacers in points off turnovers.
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By halftime Friday, Joel Embiid had 28 points and 14 rebounds. Indiana’s entire starting five, by contrast, had combined for 25 and 11.
Following intermission, though, the Pacers started playing Embiid differently. Indiana picked up its physicality - not just on Embiid, but across the board - and tried to make the 7-footer work a little harder.
Here’s what Brett Brown saw from the sideline:
“Joel’s world changed in the second half. [He] was dominant in the first half, and it was difficult getting him the ball [in the second half], when we had some turnovers trying to get him the ball. I think [ did a really good job of fronting the post, trying to play in front of him or driving him out and the clock is evaporating.”
Embiid accounted for 12 points and seven boards between Friday’s third and fourth periods.
“They adjusted,” he said. “I tried to keep being aggressive and keep the same intensity. That’s a lesson to learn.”
OLD SIXER MAKES IMPACT
Although the Sixers led by as many as 12 points in Friday’s opening stanza, one of the team’s former players, Thaddeus Young, had a major say in turning the tables. He went for 11 of his team-best 26 points in the fourth quarter, and helped key a critical 12-3 surge that put the Pacers in control.
“I coached him for the [2013-14] season,” said Brett Brown. “Thaddeus is good I think because of his quickness and pop to the ball.”
Used effectively in pick-and-roll sets, Young added 10 rebounds (including six on the offensive glass) and five assists. Indiana was plus-9 with him on the floor.
Despite the Sixers losing consecutive games for just the second time all season, Joel Embiid spoke matter-of-factly Friday about the current state of the team.
“We’ll be fine,” he said. “It’s just two games. The season is long.”
Up next, the Sixers visit Cleveland Sunday for a 3:30 PM EST matinee. Last month’s defeat to the Cavaliers seems like it’s front of mind.
There’s a chance Jimmy Butler could return. He missed Friday’s game - his second in a row - due to a groin strain.
“We’re going to go there with revenge,” said Embiid of the Sixers’ impending visit to Quicken Loans Arena. “We’re going to want to punch them in the mouth, because we lost to them.
Just a monster night for JoJo.
The Sixers figure to be out for vengeance Sunday, when they make their lone stop of the season at Quicken Loans Arena. Back on November 23rd at The Center, the Cleveland Cavaliers handed the Sixers a humbling loss, 121-112. The defeat halted the Sixers’ lengthy regular season home winning streak at 20.