Seth Curry takes 115-103 victory in Oklahoma City
OKLAHOMA CITY – The 76ers had a split personality long before Doc Rivers took over as manager last season.
Sometimes the Sixers make the extra pass while also sharing the ball and finding the hot teammate. Then there are occasions when they resort to the “hero ball”. On these nights, things stagnate as some people try to become one-man scoring machines.
For the Sixers, the “hero ball” often resulted in losses, while they were successful in sharing the ball.
Doing the first paid off in their 115-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at the Paycom Center.
This allowed Seth Curry to score 23 points out of his 28 points in the first quarter. His only basket after that was a huge three-runner in the corner that gave the Sixers a 113-102 lead with 55 seconds left. Then he made a pair of free throws with 36.7 seconds left to freeze the game.
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The Curry three stopped an 11-4 Thunder run.
“I knew we had to kind of stop the race,” Curry said of his three-point shot. “Tobie [Harris] found me in the area. I just took my time, put my feet down and fired like any other shot.
He was one of six double-digit goalscorers for the Sixers (2-1). The five starters and sixth man Georges Niang scored at least 11 points.
Joel Embiid was the center of play and vocal leader while recording 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks. Danny Green forgot his three three-pointers in the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. That night he had 11 points while doing 3 of 5 to three.
Harris and Tyrese Maxey each had 14 points. Niang added 12 points while making 3 of 4 at three points.
It marked the Thunder’s first home game in front of fans since the NBA was shut down due to the pandemic. On March 11, 2020, the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season after Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 before the start of the Jazz-Thunder game scheduled here.
So there was a different atmosphere in the building on Sunday evening.
For the Sixers, that was a big difference from Friday’s loss to the Nets when they stuck to their first option. The lack of movement of the ball helped Brooklyn end the game on a 16-1 streak.
Rivers knows there will be other games like Friday’s where the guys are competitive and want to score.
“It’s not a selfish thing,” he said.
However, this is one thing that has a knack for backfiring on the Sixers. It’s easy to share the ball against struggling teams like the New Orleans Pelicans (their opening game opponent) and the Thunder. Rivers needs to get the Sixers to trust the extra pass against competitive teams like the Nets and New York Knicks.
“It happens, because they’re humans,” Rivers said of guys looking for their own shots even when they’re better at sharing the ball.
“I wish they were machines,” he said. “I really do. I wish I could call them up and say, ‘Stay here.’ It doesn’t happen. Even the great teams that I had, the same problems. It will always be that. do shootarounds and practice.
Curry’s 23 points in the first quarter were two behind Embiid’s record for most points in a quarter. Embiid scored 25 points in the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers on February 4, 2021.
“I didn’t know,” Curry said two points off the record. “It’s pretty cool to be close to the record books. But I missed one [three-pointer] that I was open during this first trimester. I shouldn’t have missed this one.
That night, Curry made 8 of 10 shots during the quarter, including 6 of 7 with three-pointers. As a result, he joined Jodie Meeks as the only Sixers with at least six three-pointers in a single quarter.
“Honestly, I was just finding hits,” Curry said. “I found shots that I normally shoot a high percentage on. “
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He moved well without basketball. His teammates did a good job finding him, and Embiid was solid at manipulating defense to open shots for his teammates.
“Honestly, it wasn’t new,” Curry said. “I was getting good shots. It wasn’t like I had 18 dribbles, a 40 foot half court. I wasn’t like I was on a Steph-like streak. I was just finding good shots.
Curry was referring to his sniper brother Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
The curry was hot at first.
After Harris scored the game’s first basket, Curry added six straight points. Then Embiid hit a pair of free kicks before Curry scored the Sixers’ next eight points. At one point, Curry had 17 of Philly’s first 27 points.
“The team recognized that he was successful,” Rivers said. “It’s the sign of a good team. They see he did, and they were leading Seth Curry on the left, Seth on the right. On post-ups to Joel, they were cutting to get shots from Seth. It is really a great recognition of our group.
He calmed down a bit in the second quarter, missing both of his shooting attempts – both to three points. Then in the second half, Curry only attempted three shots while looking to set up teammates.
To his credit, the eighth-year veteran wasn’t forcing things after the Thunder started paying more attention to him from the second quarter. OKC started to pass him and take his catch.
“The big part of Seth was like, okay, if you start to pass me, we’ve got shooters galore,” Rivers said. “We have to be people on the ground. The same as Joel did today. So it’s growth.
As has been the case over the past two seasons, Embiid was a play decision after being listed as questionable. This time he was battling a pain in his right knee.
He did a pre-game routine 45 minutes before game time. Embiid was locked up as he followed instructions from assistant coach Sam Cassell and knocked back shots at a member of the player development staff. He performed various drills and attempted a foul line for 10 before heading to the locker room.
Once there, he informed the Sixers that he was able to play.
This was not a good thing for the Thunder, as Embiid was a vocal leader and was leading his performance.
Embiid’s knee looked good, as his versatility and athleticism were in full view.
At first he was playing in the center of point. He would grab defensive rebounds, sprint the field with the ball, and find open teammates. After grabbing his first defensive rebound, Embiid ended the game assisting on a three-pointer from Seth Curry.
Embiid was also strong in defense.
He had a crazy block on Darius Bazley’s dunk attempt. Embiid’s force on the ball knocked Bazley down to the ground.
Embiid did it all that night, even knocking fans down on the pitch while chasing a loose ball near midfield. The four-time All-Star had to briefly leave the game. He had to change his tights because of a hemorrhage in his left knee.
Once back, Embiid continued to train teammates and show them where to be on the floor.
He made the Thunder pay when they tried to trap him.
“It was just great to watch because they kept walking, coming and he was just patient,” Rivers said. “He just sat down and was patient, separating people. … Tom Brady-ish is what Joel was today.
Embiid declined to speak to the media after the game.
While playing, backup center Andre Drummond was sidelined with a sprained right ankle. Forward Niang played in the save center against the Thunder.
Undersized at 6-foot-7, Niang doesn’t give the Sixers the rebound from Drummond or reserve center Paul Reed. But he’s a solid three-point shooter that clears the floor.
The Sixers led 87-78 after three quarters.
They opened the fourth quarter with a lineup consisting of Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, Niang, Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle. The Thunder came close to seven points from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s basket. But the Sixers responded with an 11-0 run to make it a 98-80 cushion after Niang’s three-point shot with 9:49 to go.
It marked what appeared to be the first real home game for second-year Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.
OKC chose not to perform in front of a paying audience last season, even after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. They allow friends and family members of the team to attend games at the end of the season. They were seated on the second floor.
So it was the Thunder’s first game in front of paying fans after playing their first two road games.
“I’m thrilled for all the guys,” said Daigneault. “Were excited. I’ve mentioned a number of times that this is how you connect with your fan bases, you know, games. So we’re excited to find them in the building.