The big man may have been back, but the 76ers’ (19-9) latest win was as much about the bench as it was anything else.
Returning from a one-game absence (rest), Joel Embiid looked sharper and sharper as Monday’s game, a 116-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons (13-12), went along.
To finish off a pesky, short-handed opponent, however, the Sixers required an extra kick from their reserve corps, which combined for 54 points.
Furkan Korkmaz tallied a career-high 18 points (7-12 fg), doing so behind a personal-best four 3-pointers, while T.J. McConnell netted 14 points (5-10 fg, 2-3 3fg), four rebounds, and six assists.
Landry Shamet added 10 points (3-9 fg, 3-7 3fg). His triple with four minutes to go put the Sixers up 15, 107-92, and essentially dashed Detroit’s hopes of a four-game season series split.
From the outset of Monday’s tilt, the Sixers’ second in a row against the Pistons, Ben Simmons ensured his squad got off to a promising start. He scored and facilitated at will, posting 11 points in the opening quarter.
Simmons was a perfect 5 for 5 from the field during that stretch, and ended the evening with 18 points, 10 boards, and seven dimes. The double-double was his 19th of the 2018-19 campaign.
Jimmy Butler was forced to exit Monday’s game after nine minutes of play with a strained groin. He missed all three of his shot attempts, but collected four rebounds and two assists.
For Detroit, Blake Griffin didn’t play, instead resting on the second night of a back-to-back. The All-Star had combined for 119 points in the first three meetings between the Sixers and Pistons.
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The big man was back, and had moments where he certainly made his presence felt.
The Sixers’ three-game homestand will continue Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, against whom they’ve gone 1-1 this season. Brooklyn went into the weekend in the midst of an eight-game tailspin, but recovered modestly by sweeping a back-to-back behind a 106-105 overtime home win Friday against the Toronto Raptors, and 112-104 victory Saturday at the New York Knicks.