PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers returned home on Monday from a four-game road trip to play host to the New Orleans Pelicans looking for some revenge. These two teams met on Dec. 30 in the bayou with the Pelicans coming away with the win so the Sixers were looking to even the score.
The Pelicans offered a tough challenge as Zion Williamson is one of the elite scorers in the league and CJ McCollum is a terrific point guard, but Philadelphia used a steady dose of Joel Embiid in order to come away with a 120-111 win. Embiid had 42 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five assists to lead the Sixers to this win.
James Harden had 27 points and eight assists, Georges Niang added 15 off the bench, Tyrese Maxey had 12 points, and Tobias Harris added five and six rebounds. De’Anthony Melton also added 11 points.
Here are the player grades after the win:
It was an aggressive offensive start for Harden as he was going downhill consistently and he was able to finish at the basket. He also had a nice pull-up jumper on the baseline to give the Sixers a lift on the offensive end and help Embiid out in the scoring department. He was huge in the fourth quarter with the big fella resting for the stretch run. He was terrific with his scoring of him all night long in terms of being that No. 2 guy next to the big fella.
It was a solid night for Melton on both ends of the floor as he was able to knock down an open triple while he was also able to be disruptive on the defensive end. He continues to be a pest on that end and the Pelicans had a tough time figuring him out. The 3-pointer he hit in the fourth quarter was huge to keep the Pelicans at bay when they made one last push.
It was a tough offensive start for Harris as he left a few shots short at the rim. He also wasn’t able to make an impact on the defensive end. He switched onto Williamson and immediately, Williamson took him to the rim for a bucket. Philadelphia needed more out of him in this one on the offensive end.
PJ Tucker: C+
Again, Williamson is such a tough guard for anybody in this league with his physicality and the way he just barrels through defenders, but Tucker did an admirable job against him. The biggest issue that held him back was the foul trouble as he picked up three in the first half. The corner triple he drilled was an important one in the second half.
Despite being questionable with lower back soreness, the big fella was terrifying to start the game. He was aggressively attacking Jonas Valanciunas as he drew two fouls on him to begin the game. There wasn’t much that the Pelicans could do with him as he beat up on any defender they threw at him. His energy seemed to drop off a bit in the third quarter on the defensive end as he was not contesting many shots and there were quite a few offensive rebounds he surrendered. Overall, though, he was once again spectacular out on the floor.
Tyrese Maxey: B+
Again, Maxey’s timing is just a bit off at the moment. He had a few uncharacteristic turnovers that are a product of him just being away from the floor for so long. When he was aggressive going to the basket, he was able to get one to fall while also drawing a foul for an And-1. He was much better in the second half as he looked to be more in rhythm and he was able to contribute on the offensive end.
Georges Niang A
The Minivan hopped off the bench and he immediately knocked down four triples. One has to give Niang credit, the man certainly knows his role and he plays it very well. He was a source of instant offense off the bench and the Pelicans couldn’t find a way to stop the two-man action with him and Harden.
Matisse Thybulle: B
When McCollum began getting hot again from deep, coach Doc Rivers didn’t want a repeat of the loss in New Orleans so he inserted Thybulle into the game to defend McCollum and he bothered him out on the perimeter.
Montrezl Harrell: C
There isn’t much that Harrell can do when he gets switched onto Williamson. Every time Harrell defended the Pelicans star, it was not a good result for Philadelphia. On the offensive end, he was able to contribute a bit with some ball movement and he was good in terms of rolling to the basket and got himself a dunk.
Shake Milton: C-
The veteran out of SMU wasn’t able to really get into any type of offensive rhythm, but he was able to get his teammates involved and make sure they touched the rock. Still, the aggressiveness wasn’t there and he had a tough time on the defensive end as New Orleans hunted him off switches.