Sixers at Warriors: Sixers can't hold 19-point lead without Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris

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3 observations after Sixers can't hold 19-point lead, fall to Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers couldn’t cap a six-game road trip Wednesday night with their best win of the season.

They built a 19-point second-quarter lead at Chase Center but fell to a 116-96 loss to the Warriors

The defeat dropped the Sixers to 2-4 on the trip and 10-9 overall. Golden State is now an NBA-leading 16-2. 

Stephen Curry had 25 points and 10 assists. 

Seth Curry scored 24 points for the Sixers. Tyrese Maxey posted 19 points on 5-for-15 shooting and five assists. 

Joel Embiid missed his ninth game in a row after testing positive for COVID-19, though it seems he’s nearing a return. Tobias Harris was sidelined with left hip soreness, his second consecutive absence. 

The Sixers will head home and face the Timberwolves on Saturday night. Here are observations on their loss to the Warriors: 

Welcome back, fellas  

Matisse Thybulle got the initial assignment on Stephen Curry, although Golden State’s collective skill accelerating the pace created frequent cross-matches. 

The Sixers also gave Seth Curry a chunk of possessions on his older brother. The seven-time All-Star shook free for a wide-open three early on, but the Sixers’ Curry held up fine otherwise in the early stages. 

In fact, he was the most effective scorer on the floor, posting 10 quick points and lifting the Sixers to a 19-11 lead. He looked perfectly healthy after being sidelined Monday for the Sixers’ win over the Kings with back tightness, running Iverson cuts galore and hitting a layup after Georges Niang found him on a backdoor cut. 

He was smooth and confident as a mid-range shooter and driver, hitting 6 of his opening 8 shots. None of those makes were three-pointers. 

Danny Green managed to match Curry in terms of immediate impressiveness returning from injury. Playing for the first time since suffering a left hamstring injury on the opener of the Sixers’ road trip, Green in his first stint made a floater and two three-pointers, the second of which stretched the Sixers’ edge to 27-13.

He converted his first four field goals, scoring 10 points within six minutes on the court. Green also recorded four steals in his 17 minutes and spent time on Stephen Curry.

Of course, Thybulle was the main defender on the decorated sharpshooter. The 24-year-old wasn’t flawless — Curry bested him with slick screen rejections, pump fakes and other tricks — but he gave relentless effort and clearly bothered Curry at times in a three-steal, two-block performance.

Seth Curry couldn't sustain his hot start and went 0 for 5 from three in the game. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry was predictably dangerous regardless of how well Thybulle and the Sixers guarded him.

Bright start against top-rated defense 

Golden State entered Wednesday’s game with the NBA’s best defensive rating, but it sure didn’t look that way in the first half. 

The Sixers had success driving, kicking and knocking down open jumpers. They avoided costly live-ball turnovers, attacked the paint when appropriate, and probed for good looks when nothing was available early in the shot clock.

A Warriors zone briefly stalled the Sixers as the team skirted around the edges of the defense and had trouble penetrating. Maxey, however, shifted the game’s momentum by drawing fouls on back-to-back possessions.

As a team, the Sixers began 17 for 28 from the floor and 5 for 10 from three-point territory. Isaiah Joe came off the bench to sink two of those triples.  

Maxey’s been crafty at creating contact lately, attempting 27 free throws over the past three games and making 26 of them. If he keeps developing in that area, it’s a skill that should serve him well against physical postseason defenses determined not to let him take layups. 

Maxey did turn the ball over for the first time since the Sixers’ loss last Tuesday to the Jazz, committing two giveaways.

The inevitable Warriors surge 

Foul trouble played a significant role for both teams. Andre Drummond was called for his third personal in the middle of the second period and Draymond Green picked up his fourth with 3:10 left in the half.

The center-less Warriors finished the second quarter strong without Green and cut the Sixers’ lead to nine points on a half-court heave from Jordan Poole at the halftime buzzer. 

They continued that run early in the third, playing with the characteristic speed and energy that was curiously absent early in the evening. A Stephen Curry fast-break three tied the game at 63-all and an Andrew Wiggins triple put Golden State on top. Every Sixers miss or turnover seemed to fuel the Warriors’ transition offense. 

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers then substituted Drummond out, inserting Danny Green and using Niang as the team’s largest player. That move made sense given the fast-paced action and helped momentarily stabilize the Sixers. Stephen Curry’s usual mid-quarter exit sure didn’t hurt either. 

In a game where the Sixers needed to overcome a sizable talent disadvantage, Drummond's one-point outing on 0-for-5 shooting is certainly notable. His issues scoring in the paint have been magnified when the Sixers try to pull off improbable victories. The Sixers also couldn't mitigate his five turnovers Wednesday.

The team's night fizzled out in the fourth period and Niang earned his sixth personal with 4:33 to go for shoving Juan Toscano-Anderson (13 points, six assists, six rebounds) in the chest off the ball. Rivers decided to use five perimeter players for a short stint, then brought Drummond back for the final minutes. Golden State reached another gear down the stretch, while the Sixers looked tired and disappointed with how the game had played out.