The highlights keep slipping away and the hottest team in the NBA continues to win.
Joel Embiid set a new Sixers franchise record for consecutive games with at least 30 points, eclipsing that mark for the ninth straight time Saturday night in a 141-121 victory over the Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
He had 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, seven assists, seven rebounds and two blocks in the Sixers’ eighth straight win.
Therese Maxe scored 31 points and Tobias Harris had 24 points.
Aaron Nesmith scored a career-high 25 points for the Pacers, who fell to 32-39.
On the second night of a back-to-back game, the 48-22 Sixers were down James Harden (recovering from injury) and PJ Tucker (left ankle soreness). Indiana players Tyrese Haliburton, Benedict Mathurin and Chris Duarte are all off with injuries.
Here are notes on the Sixers’ recent 3-0 road trip victory:
Milton is an excellent alternative writer
Sixers De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr. instead of Harden and Tucker. It was the third start for the House as a Sixer and first since November 19.
Miles Turner scored Indiana’s first four points and the Sixers struggled early at both ends. Milton and House are unable to connect during the transition, quickly missing an opportunity. After House missed a reverse layup attempt, Jordan Nora made a layup bunt three to put the Pacers up to a 12-4 lead.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers called a timeout and his team immediately beat Indiana 14-0. That surge included triples from Maxie, House and Harris, as well as Melton’s coast-to-coast throw. The Sixers’ defense has also improved a lot. House made a solid job of catching Turner at the post, resulting in a good miss, and Milton picked off TJ McConnell’s pocket twice. The 24-year-old converted the second steal into a buzzer-hitting dunk that put the Sixers up 34-24. He’s clearly a nice down to earth player when you’re hoping to expand some good possessions into a game-changing big run.
In 34 quality minutes, Milton had 14 points, six steals, five assists and five rebounds.
Maxi is dangerous everywhere
To open the second quarter, the Sixers used Maxey in Harden’s typical spot along with four bench players.
He was exceptionally strong and confident in the role; The third year guard scored 22 points in the first half on 9-for-11 shooting and scored smoothly on all three runs. Maxey’s apparent ability to score from anywhere was reminiscent of his career-high 44-point performance against the Raptors in late October. He’s shown a lot of versatility with lefties, block runners, and fluid three pulls.
Harris, Chuck Melton and George Niang also produced effective offense during the Sixers’ 38-point second quarter. However, the team’s defense is expected to slump with Embiid on the bench. Paul Reid had two rushing fumbles, which resulted in Dewayne Dedmon’s first assignment in the rotation since the Sixers signed him over a month earlier; The 33-year-old played less than three minutes in the second quarter. Reed had a swelling time in fourth place and finished with 10 points going 5-for-6.
Jalen McDaniels returned after missing the previous two games with a bruised right thigh. His move seemed tentative at times, but McDaniels capitalized on Sixers possession in the first quarter when the Pacers pinned Milton-Embied and left him free on a single throw. McDaniels ultimately went 16 minutes and scored seven points.
Embiid in full command
Embiid was happy to draw double teams and find pitchers open all night from his office on the nail.
He had no problem free-shaking mid-range jumpers in isolation against Turner, either. And in the third quarter, Embiid passed Maurice Cheeks for the eighth-ranked home run All-time Sixers scoring list. When the Pacers sent a more aggressive assist at Embiid on the Sixers’ next possession, he turned the ball over to Melton on the left wing. Melton selflessly ran it all the way to Maxie, whose third corner extended the Sixers’ lead to 15 points.
Considering how well Embiid and the Sixers throw the ball, any major deficit must be especially frustrating to opponents who already know their talent is inferior and that the other team undoubtedly has the best player on the field. The Sixers entered Saturday night with the best free throw percentage of 83.4 in the NBA. After a 10-for-13 outing, Embiid is averaging 85.5 percent this season.
Impressively, the Sixers needed Embiid to zero in the fourth quarter on back-to-back sweeps of Charlotte and Indiana. If they beat the Bulls on Monday in Philadelphia, they will have their longest winning streak of the season.
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