The Philadelphia 76ers handled business on New Year’s Eve as they knocked off the Oklahoma City Thunder rather easily in what can be classified as a professional win. The Sixers were down James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and PJ Tucker and it was the second night of a back-to-back on a major holiday.
While the focus will be Philadelphia shooting 55.1% from the floor in the first half on their way to a 69-43 halftime lead, their defense on Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander needs to be highlighted as well.
Gilgeous-Alexander entered the contest averaging a robust 31.4 points on 50.5% shooting from the floor as he has made a strong case to be an All-Star in the Western Conference. The Sixers held him to just 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting in order to pick up the win.
“Shai’s a great player,” Tobias Harris told reporters. “He’s having a hell of a year so we obviously know that he’s the focal point for their team. We tried to make a lot of his looks difficult and he still makes a lot of great plays on the floor.”
SGA could not find any good looks all night. Whether he was being defended by De’Anthony Melton and Matisse Thybulle out on the perimeter or he was running into Joel Embiid in the paint, it was a long night for the Thunder leader.
“He’s the top guy on that roster and somebody that can go out there and score 30 on every game at any given night,” Harris added. “We really just tried to show a crowd and make a lot of his looks tougher than what he normally may see.”
The Sixers will now return home for a rematch with CJ McCollum and the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. The Pels knocked off the Sixers on Friday with McCollum drilling a career-high and franchise-record 11 3-pointers.
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