Joel Embiid Scores 21 as 76ers Hand DeMar DeRozan, Spurs 8th Straight Loss

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 23, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 22: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on November 22, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers held serve against the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Friday thanks to a 115-104 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid dominated the paint for the Sixers with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 14 rebounds in just 28 minutes.

Philadelphia's efforts on the boards proved to be the difference, as the team out-rebounded the Spurs 51-32. The 76ers notably had 13 offensive rebounds to San Antonio's three.

Tobias Harris led all Philly scorers with 26 points, and Ben Simmons finished with a 10-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. The 76ers (10-5) have won three straight games.

DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting for the Spurs (5-11), who have now lost eight straight for the first time in head coach Gregg Popovich's 23-plus-year tenure. 

              

Notable Performances

Spurs G DeMar DeRozan: 29 points, 7 rebounds

Spurs F Rudy Gay: 22 points, 4 rebounds

Spurs F LaMarcus Aldridge: 17 points, 6 rebounds

76ers F Tobias Harris: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

76ers C Joel Embiid: 21 points, 14 rebounds

76ers PG Ben Simmons: 10 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists

       

Tobias Harris Paces Offense Again

At his best, Tobias Harris is a confident, dominant scorer capable of dropping 25-30 points on any given night.

On other evenings, Harris fades into the background en route to modest stat lines.

The 76ers will need the former Harris if they're to win the NBA Finals, and that player showed up Friday to the tune of 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting (3-of-5 from three-point range).

Harris' chemistry with Ben Simmons showed on Friday, with the former player calmly hitting a three after the point guard found him:

The roles were reversed on the following play, when Harris dished one of his four assists to Simmons for a breakaway dunk:

The ex-Tennessee star sliced through the lane between two Spurs defenders for an easy two:

Harris also excelled on the defensive end, posting two blocks and a steal. Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire captured head coach Brett Brown praising Harris' defense postgame:

The forward recently enjoyed a two-game stretch where he averaged 24.0 points on 66.6 percent shooting. A quiet night then occurred against the New York Knicks (14 points, 5-of-13 shooting), but Harris returned to his better form on Friday.

If he plays like that in the playoffs, the 76ers will be very hard to beat.

         

Spurs' Sluggish Start Doesn't Hinder DeRozan's Efficiency

San Antonio Spurs is headed toward a playoff miss for the first time since the 1996-97 season, or the year before Tim Duncan arrived in town.

Almost nothing has gone right for the Spurs during their eight-game losing streak.

They scored 132 points against the Washington Wizards but lost.

They held All-Star Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic to a 4-of-16 shooting night but lost.

They led by 15 in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers but lost.

The only long-term silver lining is a high lottery pick in the 2020 NBA draft, but in the short term, fans can at least enjoy the most efficient and productive season of DeRozan's career.

The 30-year-old entered the night shooting 52.8 percent from the field, an excellent feat considering that he'd never made half of his field goals in a season before. He also entered Friday first on the team in assists.

The ex-Toronto Raptor entered the night on a hot streak after scoring 33.5 points per game on 69.7 percent shooting over his last two contests, and he didn't disappoint against a stingy 76ers defense.

He kept the outcome mildly interesting near the end with this dunk off a Dejounte Murray dish:

DeRozan also won a one-on-one battle with Simmons for this deuce:

The wing scored 13 fourth-quarter points, but the 76ers went on a 12-5 run in the final minutes to put the game away.

If the Spurs find themselves playing out the string in February, it wouldn't be a shock if they traded DeRozan at the deadline. But for now, the wing is doing all he can to try to stop the bleeding.

             

What's Next?

The Spurs will finish a four-game Eastern Conference road trip against the New York Knicks on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.

The 76ers will end their three-game homestand against the Miami Heat on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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