Player grades: Joel Embiid, Sixers rally from 21 down to beat Blazers
PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers returned home from a very impressive 4-1 road trip looking to build off the success they just had. With two days off, they played host to the Portland Trail Blazers, and considering the opponent, it looked like an excellent opportunity to grow.
Instead, the Blazers came out firing. They knocked down 11 triples in the first half and they led the Sixers by as many as 21. Instead of just wilting, they were able to rally back and knock off Portland 120-119. Joel Embiid had 39 points, seven rebounds, and four assists and he drilled a huge shot with 1.1 seconds left to lead Philadelphia to this win.
James Harden had 19 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, and Tyrese Maxey had 13 points. De’Anthony Melton added 13 and five assists off the bench and Georges Niang added 12.
Here are the player grades after the win:
James Harden: B
It was a weird night for Harden. The Blazers started Thybulle on him and he couldn’t get past his former teammate nor could he convert on any of the open looks he received early. He then got going a bit in the second quarter against rookie Shaedon Sharpe which also opened up other aspects of Philadelphia’s offense. Overall, he didn’t shoot the ball well, he had a tough night on defense, but he came alive in the fourth quarter to give Philadelphia the push they needed in order to win this one.
Tyrese Maxey: C+
It was an interesting defensive matchup for Maxey as he started the game defending Damian Lillard. Usually, that would be left to the team’s best defender, but with Philadelphia going back to their initial starting lineup, the responsibility fell to Maxey. Lillard didn’t have a great night so credit has to go to Maxey there, but he couldn’t make much of an impact on offense. He didn’t get much of a chance to score the ball as he really didn’t get his usual shot attempts.
Tobias Harris: C-
The shooting for Harris continues to be a bit up and down. He missed some really good, open looks early from deep which is something that has to change. A lot of what the Sixers do will hinge on what he does out on the floor. While they will obviously be relying on the heavy lifters, Harris has to be able to knock down the open looks consistently.
PJ Tucker: C-
The Blazers have a lot of long and athletic forwards who can put the ball on the floor and bother opponents. Jerami Grant is a big example of that and he got a lot of easy looks against Tucker. The veteran did make some hustle plays in order to give Philadelphia some extra possessions, but he didn’t make a huge difference in this one.
Joel Embiid: A+
With the Blazers off to such a hot start on offense, one could sense that Embiid was ready to pick up his intensity. Portland built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and it looked like they were going to run away with it early, but then the big fella got going to keep Philadelphia in it. He was really the only source of consistent offense in this one. He was in a groove while the rest of the Sixers had a tough time finding that rhythm. The shot he made over Jusuf Nurkic at the end was a helluva play for the win.
De'Anthony Melton: A-
The start for Melton wasn’t great as he picked up two fouls in one possession trying to defend Lillard, but after that, he knocked down a triple before getting a steal and going the other way for a layup. He didn’t have a great defensive night, but he was able to pick up the slack on the offensive end that the starters left with their poor night.
Georges Niang: B+
The night for Niang was a usual one. He knocked down a couple of triples and he had a few tough moments on defense. The 3-pointers were important ones as those kept Philadelphia in the game as Portland was making every shot they put up.
Paul Reed: C+
Reed was a part of a helter-skelter moment in the first half when the ball was bouncing all over the place. He had a nice play on a steal before missing a reverse layup, then chasing down the rebound, and missing a euro step layup, before Portland grabbed the rebound, and he hustled back to make a nice defensive play. That right there pretty much sums up Reed’s night. He brought a lot of energy, per usual, but he fouled a lot and couldn’t convert on his open looks on offense.
Just unbelievably insane stuff. There are like six different bizarre plays in these 23 seconds! https://t.co/pZOZA66xZe
— Adam Aaronson (@SixersAdam) March 11, 2023
Jalen McDaniels: D
The start for McDaniels was especially rough as he picked up three fouls off the bench in the first quarter. One could make the case that they were questionable ones, but foul trouble has seemed to be an issue for him in recent games. He picked up five in the recent win over the Indiana Pacers. He also had five fouls in this one.
Shake Milton: C
It was a bit of a mixed bag for Milton in his run. The veteran out of SMU had a rough time on defense, but he was able to contribute with his passing as he was setting up his teammates well.
Danuel House Jr.: B
The Sixers went 11 deep in the first half with House Jr. getting a look. He missed a corner triple, but he is athletic enough to keep up with the young guards the Blazers possess so he was able to help in that respect. He was better on offense in the second half when he knocked down a triple and had a highlight one-handed alley-oop slam in transition.