Unlike the Sixers, the New Orleans Pelicans have just one star - Anthony Davis. Their chances of winning aren't very high when he scores only 12 points, a season low, and turns it over six times, a season high.
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Despite a late comeback by New Orleans, the Sixers held on to win Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, 121-120. The Sixers led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid fouled Davis on a three-point attempt with 2.5 seconds left. Davis made his first two free throws and missed the third.
Embiid scored 31 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and made life difficult for Davis, while Ben Simmons had 22 points. The Sixers are 13-7 on the season, 10-0 at home.
• About 30 minutes before tip-off, more news broke about Markelle Fultz, and not the kind the Sixers wanted to have to handle.
According to a report by The Athletic, Fultz has been dealing with a wrist issue in addition to his previously diagnosed shoulder injury. Fultz reportedly would "prefer a fresh start with a new team," (see story).
Head coach Brett Brown said that Fultz participated in the Sixers' light walkthrough before the game. Fultz was on the Sixers' bench in street clothes.
Fultz's agent Raymond Brothers responded to the report, telling ESPN his focus is on getting his client healthy and that he has not indicated that Fultz would like to be traded.
There's been plenty of drama surrounding Fultz in his year-plus with the Sixers, and it looks like we're nowhere near the end of it.
• We only got to see the much-anticipated Embiid vs. Davis on one end of the floor. While Embiid guarded Davis, Nikola Mirotic defended the Sixers' big man, with Davis guarding Simmons and roving in the middle.
Embiid had his way with Mirotic early. He drained a smooth fadeaway jumper over Mirotic at the first-quarter buzzer, giving him 15 points and the Sixers a 38-23 advantage.
Davis had just two first-quarter points. He reached 10,000 career points in the second quarter, becoming the eighth-youngest player to reach that milestone.
• Given the Sixers' recent history of blowing big leads, it's a positive that they didn't immediately squander their 15-point first-quarter advantage. The Pelicans went on a 19-7 run at the start of the second quarter, but the Sixers recovered before completely relinquishing the lead. Simmons' aggression attacking the rim in his second stint was key; with the Pelicans making a run, he wasn't going to allow the Sixers to settle for mediocre shots.
However, letting New Orleans back into it again in the fourth period is obviously concerning.
• As usual, T.J. McConnell received loud cheers from the Wells Fargo Center crowd when he checked into the game. The noise rose to another level when he knocked down a three-pointer with one minute left in the first quarter, his first long-range make of the season.
McConnell had three points and an assist in 17 minutes. Given the situation with Fultz, he's the Sixers' backup point guard for the foreseeable future.
• Moving forward, the Sixers will likely start to use Jimmy Butler's ability in isolation more. We saw a new play in the second quarter, as the Sixers got the ball to Butler in the mid-post and cleared out the entire left side of the floor. Butler nailed a turnaround jumper over Jrue Holiday.
Butler had an off night, scoring 13 points on 5 for 16 shooting.
• Landry Shamet's skill at drawing fouls on jumpers is well beyond his years. He did it again in the third quarter Wednesday night, exploiting an out-of-control closeout by Davis and making all three free throws.
Shamet posted a career-high 15 points on 4 for 6 shooting.
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