GRADES: Philadelphia 76ers 114, Detroit Pistons 110

The Philadelphia 76ers pull out their third victory in four nights.

The Philadelphia 76ers carried over the momentum from Friday’s win over Boston into this game, most notably through Ben Simmons. After his monstrous fourth quarter to close out Boston the night before, Simmons started this game on a tear, scoring eight of the Sixers’ first 18 and dropping 16 points in the first half.

Detroit hung strong throughout, despite the absence of Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, as well as a slow night from Process legend Jerami Grant — his 11 points broke a streak of 14 consecutive games with 20+ scored.

Philadelphia started the game briskly, but were eventually bogged down by turnovers and sloppy a defense — a trend that could permeate the rest of the evening. Both teams exchanged runs, with Detroit’s strongest moments coming early in the second and third quarters. Is was a two-point game at halftime, however, and a four-point game when the buzzer sounded. At no point did it feel like one team might run away with it.

From the Sixers’ perspective, the shorthanded Pistons, who’ve won only three games this season, should’ve been a much easier win on paper — especially when you factor in Joel Embiid‘s big night and Simmons’ best game of the season. That said, the second night of a back-to-back is tough, especially on the road. Philadelphia simply had too many stretches of flat basketball.

The fourth quarter was a slog, broken only for brief moments by impressive shot-making on either side. In the end, the Sixers had Joel Embiid, and Detroit did not. The Pistons needed more from Grant to have any chance to close this one out, but he was rendered ineffective all night — in large part due to the defensive efforts of Simmons.

JOEL EMBIID

C, Philadelphia 76ers

A-

35 mins | 33 pts | 14 reb | 1 ast | 1 stl | 2 blk | 3 TO | 10-20 FG | 1-2 3PT| 12-17 FT | 2 PF | +13 |

It’s not ideal for Embiid to play 35 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back, especially when you consider how physical Friday’s win over Boston was. That said, Embiid looked as good as ever, dropping a comfortable 33 points and waltzing to the line 17 times despite some fairly disciplined coverage by Detroit’s bigs — Mason Plumlee, who fouled out in 19 minutes, notwithstanding. He turned it on defensively down the stretch, and continued his stretch of remarkable efficiency.

BEN SIMMONS

PG, Philadelphia 76ers

A

34 mins | 20 pts | 9 reb | 7 ast | 3 stl | 1 blk | 2 TO | 5-7 FG | 0-0 3PT| 10-12 FT | 3 PF | +9 |

This was Simmons’ best game of the season, including a season-high 20 points. He was spry and aggressive, earning 12 trips to the free throw line — a trend that should continue if he wants to maximize his skill set offensively. He even hit 10 of them. On defense, Simmons was once again in elite form, putting clamps on one of the NBA’s top scorers in Grant. He came away with three steals and even more deflections.

That makes consecutive stinkers for Shake, who struggled to find any semblance of rhythm offensively. Detroit kept him from carving out good looks in isolation, and his defense was a glaring negative. Even so, he should get more minutes and more time with the ball in hand. Milton’s usage the past couple nights has been strangely erratic considering his importance and the confidence Rivers has shown in the 24-year-old all season.

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SHAKE MILTON

PG, Philadelphia 76ers

D

22 mins | 8 pts | 3 reb | 3 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 2 TO | 3-9 FG | 1-2 3PT| 1-1 FT | 3 PF | -5 |

That makes consecutive stinkers for Shake, who struggled to find any semblance of rhythm offensively. Detroit kept him from carving out good looks in isolation, and his defense was a glaring negative. Even so, he should get more minutes and more time with the ball in hand. Milton’s usage the past couple nights has been strangely erratic considering his importance and the confidence Rivers has shown in the 24-year-old all season.