76ers blow 19-point lead, Embiid outshines Jokic in 114-110 loss in South Philly
Monday night’s game between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic proved to be a true clash of the NBA titans, but at the end of the night, the 76ers failed to hold on to a large lead and watched the Nuggets come from behind and win 114-110 in a tough loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
Joel Embiid posted 34 points and nine rebounds. Nikokla Jokic posted 22 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. James Harden notched 24 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds while Matisse Thybulle was all over the court and tied a career high with six steals on the night.
Unfortunately for the 76ers, the bench crew basically disappeared last night, scoring just 14 points while the Nuggets bench, led by Bones Hyland, a Wilmington Delaware native, scored 21 of Denver’s 48 bench points to help lead them to a win.
While the 76ers did in fact lose, the narratives after the game surrounding the highly anticipated matchup between Embiid and Jokic are definitely misinformation. Embiid started the night on the attack, beating Jokic on a signature pump fake followed by a driving dunk to set the tone at the Wells Fargo Center.
Denver started the game 0-for-8 from three point range while Embiid was basically untouchable, leading the Sixers to an early 27-14 advantage. From there, it felt like Nikola Jokic avoided all responsibility of guarding Embiid throughout the game and earned most of his minutes (and points) against DeAndre Jordan, who was absolutely miserable for the 76ers last night.
With Embiid in a bit of foul trouble and the bench, the Nuggets were able to trim a 19-point deficit to just five points at halftime. To be fair, Jokic is the reigning MVP for a reason. He finished just short of a triple double with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists on 50 percent shooting from the floor.
However the difference between him and Embiid was evident tonight. Jokic plays with a tremendous supporting cast that can score from anywhere on the court. Embiid led all scorers in this game with 34 points, grabbing nine rebounds. For the “Foul Merchants” out there, Embiid also only shot three more free throws than his big man counterpart in Jokic.
Ultimately, I think the comparisons are unnecessary and take away from the greatness that both of them are bringing to the game. That being said, the conversations surrounding these two should favor Joel Embiid.
Doc Rivers Refusal to Play Young Bench Players
How anyone on the 76ers coaching staff could have watched more than two minutes of DeAndre Jordan last night and thought it was a good idea to to run him back out there any time Joel Embiid needed a breather is beyond me.
Doc’s refusal to play any of the young guys, especially on night’s where the vets struggle to match the versatility of the opponent might just be the death of this team.
Who would have thought?
This game was back and forth through the fourth quarter, and in a classic act the Sixers weren’t able to figure things out late in this game. Joel Embiid drew a questionable fifth foul which neutralized his defense on Jokic, and Philadelphia fell victim to poor clock management in the final seconds of the game.
With around 15 seconds remaining, Doc Rivers and the Sixers opted to not call their final timeout with a chance to tie the game. The Nuggets doubled James Harden and the ball squeaked out to Georges Niang.
Niang not only missed the contested, potential game-tying jumper, but he got his own rebound and proceeded to take a floater that missed badly with the team down three points, with 3.9 seconds left remaining on the clock.
Not to pile on here but as it turns out, Tyrese Maxey was wide open at the top of the key.
This was a Bones crushing way (pun intended) to lose this matchup, and after two fairly weak performances over the weekend it was a shame to see a solid performance go to waste.
The 76ers will get back on the horse on Wednesday night in Cleveland. Philadelphia has taken all three games in the season series, most recently beating the Cavaliers at home on March 4th.
Mandatory Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images