Quotebook | A Strong Showing to Build Upon
A night of old friends became one of new records for the 76ers (29-16), which put on a show Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves (21-23) en route to a thunderous 149-107 victory.
The Sixers’ performance was equal parts dominant and timely, as the team enters one of its most difficult stretches of its season.
With quality contributions coming from every available Sixer, spirits were high afterwards at The Center.
Here’s what was said...
The Sixers’ 149 points, 59.8 percent shooting, 21 threes, and 40 assists were all season-bests. Brett Brown expressed his pride for his team following its record-breaking night:
“I think we came out with energy, I thought we had a tremendous spirit, I thought we played defense. We used that base to run. In a half court spread, we shared the ball. We really used our defense as a launching pad and did some good things there, but we really shared the ball. It was a perfect storm for us to be able to try to get a little bit more back on track and some fist bumps and high fives. Forty assists is a big number. That’s my memory of tonight.”
In just 27 minutes, Joel Embiid recorded 31 points and 13 rebounds. Brown discussed the All-Star big man’s big night, and what it meant for the team:
“I think - in his head and in his game--he’s slowing down. He’s learning how to quarterback a gym. That’s the most obvious thing to me offensively. I think defensively, we’ve really empowered him to make plays. Like his rim presence and his ability to sort of break a play and just go chase stuff down is there, so we encourage it. A lot of our defense is reactive to what Joel does.”
After an 83-point first half (the Sixers’ highest first-half total since 1989) the team kept its foot on the gas throughout the second half. Embiid reflected the wire-to-wire energy the group played with:
“It was great. I guess that was our focus going into the game. We executed, actually, on both ends and that got us the early start. I think we were more focused tonight...I feel like everyone was locked in and we all did a great job of moving the ball and sharing the ball. We had 40 assists, so we need to keep doing that.”
Jimmy Butler, who scored 19 points off an efficient 8-10 shooting, faced Minnesota for the first time Tuesday. Butler spoke about how it felt to come out on top:
“I do want to beat those guys, but I want to beat every team, that’s for sure. A win at home is always good. By that large of a margin is great too, because guys get rest. I’m taking any and all wins, not just against the Timberwolves.”
On the opposite side of the trade, Dario Saric (11 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast) was met with a standing ovation in his first return to The Center. He reflected on his relationship with Philadelphia fans:
“I think it means a lot. It means that they really appreciate what I did the last two years, three years here. I’m really thankful for that and they really respect me.”
After going toe-to-toe with buddy T.J. McConnell, Saric said it’s all love between the former teammates:
“We are two good friends, you know, who try to just respect each other. Yeah, trust the friendship.”
The Sixers now begin a demanding stretch to close out the month of January, starting at Indiana on Thursday. Of the Sixers’ next 12 opponents, 11 are currently in the playoff picture. JJ Redick weighed in:
“This is as tough as it gets. But I think we are up for the challenge.”