The Los Angeles Clippers got the best of the Philadelphia 76ers when the two teams met in L.A. last month, but the Sixers got revenge on Friday night. In the final meeting between the two teams this regular season, the Sixers pulled out a 106-103 victory, thanks largely to MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who turned in another dominant performance. Embiid finished with 36 points and 14 rebounds, while Furkan Korkmaz added 18 points for Philadelphia. With his offensive output, Embiid became the first Sixers player to score 35 points in three straight games since Allen Iverson in 2006.
Embiid continues to further his MVP candidacy with each passing performance, The Sixers center climbed to second in the latest edition of NBA.com’s MVP Ladder after slipping out of the top five after suffering a knee injury last month. On the other side of the floor, Paul George led the way for the Clippers with 37 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Marcus Morris Sr. added 15 points and Patrick Patterson provided a big boost with18 points off of the bench.
Both teams were missing key contributors as the Clippers played without Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley, and the Sixers were down Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Dwight Howard. Ultimately, it was Philadelphia’s depth that prevailed. The win was the fourth straight for the Sixers, who currently control the top seed in the East with about a month remaining before postseason play. The loss, on the other hand, ended a seven game winning streak for the Clippers, who sit third in the West.
Here’s a look at three takeaways from Philadelphia’s win.
Embiid shot more free throws than the entire Clippers team
Joel Embiid is getting to the free throw line at a historic rate this season. Embiid, in fact, is averaging more free throw attempts per 36 minutes than any other player in NBA history.
That physical dominance was on full display on Friday night. The Clippers sent two, and sometimes even three defenders at Embiid, but no matter who was on him, the big man drew contact. On the evening, Embiid shot more free throws than the entire Clippers team.
Over the course of the contest, Embiid went 16-of-18 from the charity stripe, while the Clippers as a team went just 10-of-16. With Embiid leading the way, the Sixers shot 22-of-30 from the foul line as a team. In a game that was determined by only three points, the 12-point advantage from the foul line that the Sixers enjoyed in this one was a major factor in the outcome. Few teams have the personnel to slow Embiid without consistently sending him to the line, and the Clippers aren’t one of them.
George, Patterson stepped up in Leonard’s absence
With Leonard sidelined, the Clippers needed other guys to step up and assume a larger load on the offensive end, and Paul George and Patrick Patterson did just that. George has been playing excellent ball as of late, and that continued against the Sixers. He finished with 37 points, nine rebounds and six assists — the point production was his second-highest of the season, and the fifth straight game where he scored at least 30 points. Patrick Patterson also stepped up. His 18 points were a season high, as were the five 3’s he knocked down. In all, Patterson went 6-of-8 from the floor. Their combined production wasn’t enough to propel L.A. to a win without Leonard tonight, but if they can continue to contribute like that when he’s in the lineup the Clippers will be extremely tough to topple.
The Sixers didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline, but they have made a couple of minor moves intended to solidify the bench. One such move was signing veteran forward Anthony Tolliver to a 10-day contract. Tolliver is a well-traveled vet who can provide the team with some added floor spacing off of the bench. He made his debut with the Sixers on Friday night and played 14 minutes for Philly. He didn’t score, but he did have two rebounds, an assist and a block, and he played some decent defense. Moving forward it will be interesting to see how — or if — he fits into Philadelphia’s rotation, or if the team will bring him back following the conclusion of his current contract.