Joel Embiid and Demar Derozan battle in 76ers victory in Chicago
In the first Sunday Matinee game of the season, the 76ers battled the Bulls to the wire in a winning effort, 119-108. Philadelphia had control for the majority of the game, and even when it got tight in the second half, it always felt like this game belonged to the Sixers.
As usual, the Sixers were led by Joel Embiid, who dropped a remarkable 40 points. Chicago was without Lonzo Ball, Zach Lavine, and Alex Caruso but were carried on the back of DeMar DeRozan, who put up 45 points in the losing effort.
First Half Battle
A half entirely dominated by the two best players on both teams, Joel Embiid ending the half with 22 points and DeMar DeRozan with 26. Each of these players willed their teams to a competitive half, with the Sixers ultimately leading at the end of the first two quarters by a score of 61-52. Fortunately for Philadelphia, they shot extraordinarily well from beyond the arc, which allowed them not only to get out to a lead but made life much easier on Embiid. The biggest flaw in half was the inability to stop DeRozan, which was a problem that lasted well beyond the first half.
This game goes down as Embiid’s 20th 40+ point game in his career, which is good for third all-time in 76ers history, behind Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson. This is his seventh game of the season with 40 or more points and officially puts him in the lead for the league in scoring. He ends the game with a total statline of 40/10/3, shooting 14/23 from the floor and 10/11 from the free-throw line. This victory adds onto Embiid’s career win streak against the Bulls, making him 10-0 against them in Chicago.
Adding onto his solid play of late, Tobias Harris helped keep the pace in Chicago by scoring 23 points on 66.7% shooting from the field. In the minutes that Embiid is off the floor, the offense is handed to Harris and he delivered today, especially in the second half. He was handed the defensive assignment of DeRozan in the second half, which didn’t go too well for him, but he offset that by scoring in a variety of ways and even threw down an emphatic dunk.
A win is a win in this league, and you take them when you can get them, but this one was made much more difficult than it needed to be. There are way too many times during games where Tyrese Maxey is stifled by his own offense’s gameplan. Maxey scored just five points in the second half after he was the second-leading scorer going into halftime. Rivers puts him as a floater or in the dunker spot for minutes at a time, which completely neutralizes him and renders his best attributes useless.
Defensively they had no answer for Demar Derozan, and it shows how weak this team is on the perimeter defensively. They rely so heavily on Embiid to protect the rim and make up for mistakes made by the other defenders that it puts him in difficult situations. When the team is without Matisse Thybulle, it shows how important he is when there is a prolific perimeter scorer on the other team and proves that it’s in their best interest to keep him around through this year’s trade deadline.
The 76ers come back to Philadelphia with their most challenging task of the season awaiting them. They host the Phoenix Suns, who stand at a league’s best 42-10 record. The Suns will be on a back-to-back as they face the Bulls on Monday night. The Sixers will get the day off tomorrow in hopes of getting everyone healthy for Tuesday night.
Joel Embiid & DeMar DeRozan battled for all 4 quarters as they both dropped 40+ points in the @sixers win!@DeMar_DeRozan: 45 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST@JoelEmbiid: 40 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/tUf1g0s6JD— NBA (@NBA) February 7, 2022
Mandatory Credit: Assocaited Press