GRADES: Sixers ride dominant Joel Embiid to OT win over Hornets

Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

The Sixers, behind an utterly dominant performance from Joel Embiid, go on the road to steal a game from the Charlotte Hornets.

On a night where Charlotte was missing LaMelo Ball, Philadelphia needed extra time as a lead changing fourth quarter saw a seven-point lead turn to a three-point deficit.

Through the first 9:34 of the game, Philadelphia kept the game close at 22-21 behind eight early points from Shake Milton. When he, Tobias Harris, and Embiid left the game Charlotte closed the quarter on a 12-2 run win the quarter, 34-23.

Unlike the first, the second quarter was all Philadelphia via an offensive barrage. Isaiah Joe made the most of his minutes hitting two three-pointers as the entire bench unit shot 7-8 in a roughly six-minute span. That efficiency allowed them to shrink the lead before Embiid began his takeover. Three makes on three attempts supplemented by seven of eight from the line helped spur Philadelphia’s 20-3 run.

A rather disastrous ending to the half resulted in six Charlotte points in 2.5 seconds, but still Philadelphia took a 67-62 into the halftime locker room.

The third quarter was a nearly even affair as Charlotte tightened the lead while both teams traded buckets. Charlotte spread out their attack while Philadelphia was a two-man wrecking crew. Milton made Philadelphia’s first basket before Harris and Embiid scored the teams remaining 26 points in the quarter, taking all but three shots.

Philadelphia used a couple quick baskets to grow their lead as high as seven-points, but never could pull away. Charlotte suffered the first punch and started swinging back as a Miles Bridges jumper tied the game before Charlotte’s star of the night, Kelly Oubre Jr., nailed a three-pointer with 1:01 remaining to put Charlotte up 119-116.

As he did all night, Embiid came through. Devastating footwork allowed him a trip to the line where he split the pair. Next trip down he pulled early from the mid-range to get a “2 for 1” as he tied the game. After a Charlotte miss, Embiid took a high-arching mid-range shot that careened off backboard and twice into the rim before bouncing out and sending the game to overtime.

In overtime, the game boiled down to which of the hottest hands would stay as such. Embiid shot 3-5 while Oubre Jr. shot 2-4 and that was all the difference. Six points from Embiid, with a single basket from Harris, proved to be too much for Charlotte as they could only muster only five points in the extra frame from Oubre Jr.

Philadelphia found a way to steal a win on the road in a game they trailed in the final minute.

Grades from the Sixers’ OT victory over the Charlotte Hornets

  • Joel Embiid: A+

An absolutely masterful performance by Embiid. He poured in 43 points on only 20 shots. He added 15 rebounds and seven assists in one of those performances that remind you just how dominant he can be.

  • Tobias Harris: B-

Harris led the team in +/-. He put up 21, 11, and 4. Yet, the game didn’t match the box score. Harris was good, but he wasn’t great. He never commanded the offense and deferred to watching Embiid far too often, no matter how great the show was. Both men had unbelievable third quarters, but Harris appeared perfectly content getting out of the way in the fourth. It was a good game. Just not what the team is looking for from their second-best player who deserved an all-star nod last year.

  • Seth Curry: D+

Seth Curry is a much-improved player who already had a world-class skill. His game has taken a real step forward over the last year. He still is a guy who goes as far as his shot takes him and he simply didn’t have it tonight. Curry’s gravity will always help, and bad shooting nights happen, but it would be nice to see more than two assists via dribble hand-offs or attacking close-outs.

  • Shake Milton: B+

Milton has clearly been surpassed by Tyrese Maxey. That doesn’t change his ability as a microwave scorer who is capable of running a coherent offense. His job tonight was to facilitate the offense and his shooting was much needed with Curry struggling. A solid game from a guy Philadelphia is currently relying on to just that.

  • Isaiah Joe: A-

Joe gets graded on a curve. He’ll almost certainly never put-up large box score numbers. That doesn’t matter. His job is to make the most of his minutes and that will come with his shot. Tonight, he absolutely nailed it. 3 for 4 from three-point range is exactly the production Philadelphia hopes for.

Both teams will get a sense of familiarity for their next games as they will be partaking in one of those few back-to-back stay in place games. After Philadelphia stole one tonight, the teams will run it back again on Wednesday.

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