It was an early start, and the big man came hungry.
For a second straight game, Joel Embiid feasted, doing so especially in the first half.
A whopping 32 of his game-high 39 points Saturday at The Center came by the intermission break, as he powered the 76ers (6-4) past the Detroit Pistons (4-4), 109-99.
The 7-footter’s first-half scoring total was the highest for a Sixer since Allen Iverson went for 33 points in the first half of a December 18th, 2004 pairing with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Embiid hauled in a game-best 17 rebounds as well for his NBA-leading ninth double-double.
The victory marked a nice matinee revenge win against a squad that ousted them in overtime just a week and a half earlier.
“It’s a fun match-up,” Embiid said, who engaged early and often with Andre Drummond, his All-Star counterpart from the Pistons. “I feel like I dominate every game, especially against them. More importantly, we got the win. Last time, we didn’t.”
With Embiid rattling off their first seven points of the afternoon, the Sixers raced out to a convincing start. They built a 69-47 lead by the half, which proved to be a big enough cushion to stave off a 13-0 Detroit run that began the third quarter.
Midway through Saturday’s fourth quarter, the Pistons mounted another push, drawing within five points, 92-87, with four and a half minutes to go.
Following a timeout, the Sixers regrouped, and mounted a 13-4 spurt to put the game away.
Winning their second straight, the Sixers received important contributions from the bench. JJ Redick scored 16 points, while Mike Muscala and Landry Shamet added 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Also part of the reserve corps Saturday was the welcomed addition of Wilson Chandler. The 10-year veteran swingman missed the first nine contests of the year due to a left hamstring injury suffered in pre-season opener.
Chandler, on a restriction, logged 10 minutes. He finished with four boards, an assist, and a steal.
Click here for a complete box score.
Embiid’s Big Day, Again
Eleven points in eight minutes in the first quarter.
TWENTY ONE (we feel that all caps is warranted here) behind a 10 for 10 effort from the foul line in the second.
A nice, round 32-point total by halftime.
Forgive Joel Embiid for going scoreless in Saturday’s third period. In the fourth, he proceeded to add seven more points, including a key lay-up with four minutes left.
From the jump, it was clear the 24-year old was intent on being aggressive.
“We came out today and we punched them in the mouth,” said Embiid.
To no surprise, he seemed particularly pumped to go another round with Andre Drummond.
“He really does get excited to do that, doesn’t he?,” Brett Brown said.
“That was an opportunity for me to learn and I did learn from it.”@joelembiid on learning from past games to be aggressive from the start and attacking the rim early. #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/ff4o31i00e
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 3, 2018
Embiid went 10 for 18 from the field. Eighteen of his points came off made baskets in the paint.
The stat that interested Brown the most? Embiid set career-highs with 18 free throws and 23 attempts.
“That is a mentality,” said Brown, “that is a disposition.”
Embiid is now just the fourth player ever (Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Walt Bellamy) to register seven 30-point, 10-rebound performances in the first 10 games of a season.
New Game, New Approach to Griffin
With Blake Griffin producing 38 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists, it would be hard to say he didn’t have a productive day.
But it wasn’t a 50-point game, which was the case the last time the Sixers and Detroit squared off.
From the outset of Saturday’s tilt, the Sixers made Griffin work for his buckets. They threw multiple bodies at the All-Star (Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and others, dictated mostly by foul counts), switched and helped effectively when necessary, and stuck to the gameplan.
“He felt a bunch of different people,” said Brett Brown. “We started playing different cat-mouse games to keep Blake a little on edge.”
Smiling, Brown continued, “He still ended up with 38. But we tried to do different things – doubling him and different match-ups on him from the first time we played in Detroit.”
The revised approach got the Sixers what they wanted – a win.
Fultz’s Fine Defensive Stretch/em>
One of the developments from Saturday’s victory that Brett Brown seemed pretty pleased with was Markelle Fultz’s defense.
Throughout the afternoon, the 2017 no. 1 pick was sound, and aggressive. Brett Brown saw that same type of demeanor from Fultz in the Sixers’ previous game, Thursday’s win over the LA Clippers.
“I thought Markelle’s game was excellent defensively. It was his second consecutive game I felt like he was in it to mean it, and intelligent with our rules, reads, and gameplan.”
Fultz tallied two steals, and three defensive rebounds against Detroit.
For what it’s worth, the Sixers’ defensive rating Saturday was at its best (65.4) when Fultz was on the floor.
He was focused on being physical, keeping his man in front of him, and not fouling.
Another thing Brett Brown noticed today:
“I thought Markelle was excellent defensively. It was his second consecutive game I felt like he was in it to mean it.”
Team’s def. rtg was best (65.4) with Fultz on the floor.
Here’s a play where he did a nice job helping the cause pic.twitter.com/DuwhxpGvHZ
— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) November 3, 2018
“Just trying to help the team in anyway,” said Fultz. “Each game I just want to improve on all aspects of the game, I think I’m doing pretty good.”
‘Gram of the Game:
Sometimes, what they say about a picture is more true than usual. It really can tell the whole story.
A jam-packed stretch for the Sixers continues Sunday, as the team wraps up a back-to-back with a visit to Barclays Center. The re-tooling Brooklyn Nets have dropped four of their last five games, and have been led by Caris LeVert, who’s averaging 20.0 points per game. D’Angelo Russell, the 2015 no. 2 pick, is posting 14.8 points and 5.2 assists per contest.