The Philadelphia 76ers scored their biggest win of the season with a 102-93 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Philadelphia came into this game still searching for a level of consistency this season. The Sixers were coming off a 22-point home loss to the Utah Jazz. They lost 10 of their past 16 games after starting the season 8-2.
The Warriors have been cruising all season, but they are starting to show some signs of vulnerability. They are 3-3 in their past six games after starting the year 18-2.
Stephen Curry's pursuit of the all-time three-point record will continue after a rough night. The two-time NBA MVP finished with just 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting. Jordan Poole was the Warriors' best scoring option with a team-high 23 points in 37 minutes.
Philadelphia got the win thanks to a 32-20 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter. Depth hasn't been an asset for head coach Doc Rivers this season, but he got quality contributions from his starters and bench.
The Sixers had five players finish with at least 10 points, including four starters. Joel Embiid made all 11 of his free-throw attempts and led all scorers with 26 points.
Notable Game Stats
- Joel Embiid (PHI): 26 points (7-of-16 FG), 9 rebounds, 4 assists
- Tobias Harris (PHI): 16 points (4-of-9 FG), 9 rebounds
- Tyrese Maxey (PHI): 14 points (5-of-10 FG), 2 assists, 2 blocks
- Stephen Curry (GS): 18 points (6-of-20 FG), 9 rebounds, 5 assists
- Jordan Poole (GS): 23 points (7-of-14 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists
- Andrew Wiggins (GS): 20 points (8-of-14 FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists
Second-Half Surge Carries Sixers to Marquee Win
This was exactly the kind of game that the 76ers needed. Very few things have looked easy for them up to this point in the season, but they have somehow made it work.
Doc Rivers' squad came out of the gate playing exactly the kind of game it needed to against the Warriors. They were in control of the pace, points were difficult to come by and both teams had to fight for every bucket.
Curry's 10-point outburst late in the second quarter appeared to open the dam for Golden State. That momentum carried over after halftime, with the Warriors going on a 22-12 run to start the period.
One very encouraging sign for the 76ers is their comeback was sparked by the non-Embiid starters and the bench. Matisse Thybulle started it with a three-pointer assisted by Tobias Harris.
Furkan Korkmaz's only bucket of the game was a corner three late in the third got the Sixers to within three at 73-70.
Georges Niang tied the game with a three of his own. Thybulle's second three of the game put the Sixers on top 81-78. They wouldn't relinquish the lead from that point.
Seth Curry had a huge bucket with 5:40 left to play in regulation that made it four-point advantage.
Another encouraging sign was how Tyrese Maxey performed on a night when he didn't have his best stuff. The second-year guard showed no fear attacking the basket with Draymond Green in front of him to extend the lead back to eight points.
Thybulle's defense continues to be huge for Philadelphia. He did a fantastic job when he was the primary defender on Curry:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Matisse Thybulle held Stephen Curry to 2-of-13 shooting as the primary defender on Saturday, including 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.<br><br>Thybulle also became the first player to block multiple 3-point attempts by Curry in a single game. <a href="https://t.co/SCbXmV2y3S">pic.twitter.com/SCbXmV2y3S</a>
When the Sixers were getting back into the game, it wasn't because Embiid took over. His first points in the fourth quarter didn't come until there was 5:04 still to play.
Embiid was able to make his presence felt from that point on. He scored nine of their final 15 points.
Rivers and his coaching staff are still in the process of figuring out what starting combination gives the 76ers their best chance to win. Maxey is growing into a solid starter at point guard in place of Ben Simmons.
As long as the defense is able to keep forcing opponents to take bad shots, they don't have to lead the league in scoring to be good. They were able to do that against a Warriors team that came into the day tied with the Phoenix Suns for the NBA's best record.
Warriors Can't Find Answers on Offense in Loss
While so much of the focus has understandably been on Curry and his pursuit of the NBA's all-time three-point record, Saturday's game was a showcase for what happens to the offense when he's not on point.
Wiggins, who was primarily guarded by Seth Curry, had no problems winning his matchup for the first three quarters. He hit the 20-point mark for the second time in three games.
As Curry kept trying to shoot himself out of a slump, though, Wiggins faded down the stretch when things got out of hand. He only attempted one field goal and didn't score in the fourth quarter.
Poole had another fantastic performance in what has been a breakout season. The 22-year-old has posted back-to-back 20-point games for the first time since Nov. 19-21.
Head coach Steve Kerr could have a good problem on his hands when Klay Thompson can return. Poole's rise to prominence this season takes a lot of pressure off the five-time All-Star needing to make an instant impact to lift the Warriors.
On a night when most of the Warriors lineup was struggling to find their shot, including Curry, Wiggins and Poole kept the game close until the end.
Curry did have one of his patented scoring runs late in the first half that looked like it might open the game up for the Warriors.
Curry flurry to end the 1st half. 🔥<br><br>10 points in the final 2:41 for Steph to put the <a href="https://twitter.com/warriors?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@warriors</a> up at the break on ABC!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CurryWatch?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CurryWatch</a>: 8 threes away from history <a href="https://t.co/TMVzetGkp1">pic.twitter.com/TMVzetGkp1</a>
That poor shooting luck did prove costly in the second half. Golden State led by as many as 13 points midway through the third quarter, but the offense managed just two points over the final 4:55 in the period that cut the advantage to just three going into the fourth.
Things didn't turn around over the final 12 minutes. Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter on a 21-10 run to open up an eight-point advantage with 4:37 left to play.
Coming out of a timeout with possession of the ball, Poole turned it over when he was called for palming. After the defense forced a turnover of its own, Wiggins missed a wide-open three.
This game was a reminder that as good as the Warriors can be, they are still going to be moments when their offensive rhythm gets disrupted. Against a quality opponent, they didn't have any answers to fix things.
The Warriors only shot 40 percent from the field and made 12 of 48 attempts from three-point range. It's their second straight game struggling behind the arc. They went 14-of-46 on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, but still won by 10 points.
That luck didn't continue against a Philadelphia team that is much better on the defensive end of the court.
It's not time to panic for the Warriors, but these bad shooting performances are worth monitoring. If it keeps up, they could fall back to the pack in the Western Conference after a hot start.
The Warriors will continue their Eastern Conference road trip Monday at 7 p.m. ET against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The 76ers will play the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday at 8 p.m. ET at FedExForum.