Well, let’s hope that’s rock bottom. Yeah, this was horrible.
The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Pelicans at home; Philly had lost their previous 23 road games. Their last road win was in January of 2016 against the Magic. In the same swoop, Philly also erased their 8-game losing streak overall. The final score read, 99-88, but it felt worse, especially at the end.
The 76ers entered the matchup with the league’s worst offensive rating, but it was the Pelicans who struggled to generate movement and make shots. They do, after all, sport the league’s 6th worst offensive rating, so maybe this performance should have been expected. New Orleans finished at 39 percent from the field and 7-of-25 from the 3-point line, and they have now lost 6 of their last 7 on the schedule.
Jrue Holiday did not play, it was announced just a couple hours before tip. E’Twaun Moore was also out. Anthony Davis did what he does, finishing with 26 and 11 rebounds, plus 2 blocks, but also spent time seemingly floating around the court, on the verge of wandering.
The Buddy Hield miss-every-shot-tour continued tonight, with him making just 2-of-12 attempts in 36 minutes - I think PEOTUS would say something like “Not good!” and I’d actually agree with him. Hield is shooting 27 percent from 3 this year, although he’s a rookie, so we don’t need to ask for a trade today.
Ajinca and Asik provided fouling, although Asik had inspiring minutes in the first half. His time got cut short in the second half when he started over the Frenchman but then almost immediately committed his 3rd foul and had to come out. Asik finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds and 2 assists (more on Asik below).
Anthony Brown was 0-for-7 from the field, but it felt like he played okay. And that is indicative of the problems of this team. Solomon Hill played 37 minutes and, sometimes, makes offensive plays to stop runs. Other times, he throws the ball away or simply disappears. He’s just kind of there.
Thank goodness we could watch...
AD vs. Embiid ROUND 1
The Punishing Process versus Boss Brow
AD finished with 26 points but was just 8-of-21 from the field. He made 10-of-12 free throws though; at times, him getting to the line was the only Pelican offense.
Embiid played 27 minutes, finishing with 14 and 7 rebounds, plus 3 steals and 4 blocks. Embiid has the second-highest usage percentage in the league behind only Russell Westbrook, so he’s there to make plays. Tonight he missed all 5 of his 3-point attempts and had a few turnovers, but there’s just so much obvious talent there. And usage is part of his talent - make no doubt about it, the willingness and ability to take and make shots when you’re being guarded as the number 1 guy is something not many can do well.
The two stars didn’t primarily guard each other, but they played a number of possessions against one another, often resulting in pretty spectacular plays: both players swatted each other, made stops, AD had a dunk on Embiid, Embiid stone-walled a late-game drive resulting in a steal, AD drew fouls on Embiid. It was a nice back-and-forth, really. Hope to see more of these matchups in the future.
For AD, I made a note as I was watching the game: AD has 25 with 8 minutes to go - down 6.
So, that would mean 8 minutes of, essentially, clutch time, AD tallied 1 point. Next topic.
It’s not like everything bad happened tonight, people.
Langston Galloway was good again, this time initiating offense with the second unit. If he’s hunting his own shot, which is what he’s best at, the offense can get along just fine assuming he’s able to get ‘em up. And much of his work came after leaving the game to get 5 stitches after running into that stone wall known as Embiid.
Asik’s first quarter: 8 points, 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal. Amazing work by the big fella down there after Ajinca left with his 3rd foul. Did you know Asik’s career high is 4 assists? Let’s focus on 1 of his 2 assists tonight - an offensive rebound then kick-out to Galloway for 3! Celebrate the small stuff!
(Note: Then, of course, when trying to embed the video of this play from nba.com, it doesn’t upload and can’t embed into this story. Perfect way to end this depressing recap.)