Sixers make sure to single out PJ Tucker after home win over Nuggets
PHILADELPHIA–When one looks at Philadelphia 76ers forward PJ Tucker’s stat line in Saturday’s 126-119 win over the Denver Nuggets, they will see a whopping two points, one rebound, and one assist with four fouls and a technical foul in 24:28.
Yet, those two points and one rebound came at the most opportune moment and he also was terrific in terms of defending Nuggets star Nikola Jokic in order to rally and win the game. Saturday’s contest was the perfect example of what Tucker brings to the table on a nightly basis.
“He’s experienced,” said coach Doc Rivers. “They were trying to rotate off of him, he dives to the basket, he knows how to play basketball, and that’s why we went out and got him. Nights like tonight, he can win a game for you, and he did that.
At halftime, Jokic was shooting 6-for-7 and he had 16 points. After halftime, he shot just 2-for-5 and he had eight points. He also had six turnovers in what was a terrific effort by both Tucker and the Sixers after halftime.
“In the first half, he (Jokic) caught everything on the elbow and low,” Rivers added. “So I thought Tuck, listen, Joel (Embiid) was phenomenal. He had 47 points, but we don’t win the game if PJ Tucker doesn’t play. The way he played in the second half was extraordinary.”
The Nuggets shot 65.9% from the floor on their way to 73 points at halftime. The Sixers then switched Tucker onto Jokic and he led a big defensive effort in the second half where they held Denver to 40.5% shooting and 46 points.
“Honestly, I think Tuck spearheaded the defense for us in the second half,” added Matisse Thybulle. “He made things so hard for Jokic whether it was catching the ball, dribbling, passing, shooting, he couldn’t get anything easy, and that makes us a lot better because Jokic’s ability to take super small windows and make plays for his team is like no one else in the NBA so we had a larger role of margin of error because of Tuck and his intensity.”
While the focus is going to be on Embiid and his 47 points, and rightfully so as he was terrific on Saturday, Tucker played an important role in the win.
“He was fantastic,” Embiid said of Tucker. “Obviously, when I got in foul trouble, we switched the matchup, and having me back down as a rover is always a good idea anyways because I can control everything but he was excellent. Just trying to be physical with such an amazing player as Jokic who we saw is almost unguardable so you got to do the best job possible, but I thought he did that. I thought he was physical, didn’t let him catch the ball. He didn’t give him my space and he’s the reason why we won that game.”
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