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Kristaps Porzingis Posts 22 and 18 to Lead Mavericks Past Joel Embiid, 76ers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20: Seth Curry #30, Ryan Broekhoff #45, Kristaps Porzingis #6, and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks react in front of Matisse Thybulle #22 and Norvel Pelle #14 of the Philadelphia 76ers in the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on December 20, 2019 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. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks handed the Philadelphia 76ers just their second home defeat of the season Friday, winning 117-98 at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers have dropped three games in a row, tying their longest losing streak of the campaign. Philadelphia (20-10) slipped to 5.5 games back of the Eastern Conference's top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, who improved to 25-4 with a 111-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The Mavericks are tied with the Houston Rockets for the fourth-best record in the Western Conference (19-9). They were without Luka Doncic for the third straight game as he nurses a sprained right ankle.

   

Notable Performers

  • Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Mavericks: 22 points, 18 rebounds, three blocks
  • Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Mavericks: 27 points, four rebounds
  • Joel Embiid, C, Sixers: 33 points, 17 rebounds
  • Ben Simmons, PG, Sixers: 12 points, six rebounds, eight assists, three steals

   

Team Effort Compensates for Doncic's Absence

With their leading scorer unavailable, the Mavericks didn't look for one player to shoulder the load. Rather, Dallas got contributions across the board. Boban Marjanovic went scoreless in four minutes, but every other player had at least eight points.

And despite the length on the Sixers, the Mavericks out-rebounded Philadelphia 49-46.

Kristaps Porzingis was unable to contain Joel Embiid on defense yet contributed in other areas. Porzingis controlled the defensive glass and was the go-to scorer for his team when it needed to lean on one player.

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

Kristaps Porzingis has a career-high 16 rebounds with 11 minutes to go. He’s improved drastically as a rebounder with the Mavs.

Dei Lynam @dlynamCSN

As I am watching Porzingis who is athletic with a nice outside touch (6 of 8 from the floor) he would have been an interesting pairing with Embiid had Hinkie selected him instead of Okafor. Okafor went 3rd - KP went 4th

StatMuse @statmuse

The Mavs have won at Milwaukee and Philadelphia without Luka Doncic. Kristaps Porzingis since Doncic went down: 22 PTS, 14 REB 26 PTS, 12 REB 23 PTS, 13 REB 22 PTS, 18 REB The first time he's had 4 straight 20/10 games in his career. https://t.co/l1r1EB6zaK

The 2017-18 All-Star has had an up-and-down year, not hitting the heights many expected. Doncic's injury could be a blessing in disguise if it helps Porzingis rediscover his best self.

The Mavericks took a 35-28 lead after the first quarter thanks in large part to Tim Hardaway Jr., who had 19 points in the opening frame. He was 7-of-8 from the floor and 5-of-5 from beyond the arc.

NBA TV @NBATV

Tim Hardaway Jr. (19 PTS) caught fire from downtown, draining 5 threes in the 1st QTR! 🔥👌 https://t.co/BmI1oDY2hJ

Brad Townsend @townbrad

Hardaway's 5 treys in the first quarter were one shy of the franchise record, co-held by Dennis Scott and George McCloud, the latter of whom pulled it off twice.

Hardaway cooled off over the remainder of the game. His hot start helped get Dallas started on the right foot, though.

   

Sixers Offense Struggles Again

Much was made of the Miami Heat's using a zone defense to stymie Philadelphia en route to a 108-104 victory Wednesday. The zone is seldom deployed in the NBA, but it undoubtedly gave the Sixers problems, as it exacerbated their biggest weakness.

While the Mavericks didn't copy the Heat's blueprint, head coach Rick Carlisle used Miami for some inspiration as Dallas utilized a matchup zone for stretches.

The results were largely the same, as Philadelphia struggled from long range, shooting 10-of-34 on three-pointers.

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Some ugly offense they ran with that Simmons-Harris led unit. James Ennis is struggling big-time on both ends, too. Mavs now up 50-37. https://t.co/88WeuD7K9k

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

The boo birds have been out in force tonight for the home team here in Philly. Ugly performance from the Sixers, who are shooting 42 percent, have given up 19 points off 13 turnovers, and have gotten hardly anything from anyone other than Joel Embiid.

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

The Sixers were 14-0 at home a few days ago. Now getting booed by their own fans. Barring a miraculous comeback, Luka-less Mavs are going to manage to win on the road at Milwaukee and Philly this week.

Embiid was one of the Sixers' few bright spots. He shot 12-of-24 from the floor and connected on three of his seven three-pointers. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Ben Simmons (12 points) and Josh Richardson (10) were the only other players to score in double figures.

brianseltzer @brianseltzer

With a punishing dunk on Porzingis, Embiid passes 30 points for the 6th time this season, and 2nd time in the last 4 games. He's at 31 points and 15 rebounds for the night.

NBA Fantasy @NBAFantasy

Joel Embiid notches a double-double in the first half! #PhilaUnite 20 PTS 11 REB 36.2 FPTS https://t.co/L9JBGzJtbX

Though hitting the panic button isn't advisable, head coach Brett Brown appears to have some serious issues to iron out. The more trouble his team encounters against zones, the more likely Philly's opponents are to rely on it.

Joe Giglio @JoeGiglioSports

The Sixers went from really exciting and enjoyable to the opposite pretty quickly. When they win, it’s more relief than fun. When they lose, the issues are glaring.

And that was a big question mark entering the season. Nobody can be too surprised that a roster built around Embiid and Simmons has a hard time spacing the floor.

General manager Elton Brand has exhausted the bulk of his trade assets, but reinforcements are needed ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline.

   

What's Next?

The Sixers will be back on the court Saturday to host the Washington Wizards. The Mavs will wrap up their two-game road trip Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.