The Philadelphia 76ers would have been relieved to return home to meet the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, as the Wells Fargo Center has been an absolute fortress for the Sixers despite their road woes.
Riding a four-game losing streak, the result was never in doubt as Philadephia blew out the Grizzlies 119-107.
The Sixers now remarkably hold a 23-2 record on their home hardwood, and will breath a sigh of relief as they improve to 32-21 on the year.
Memphis remain in the eighth seed out West, although they now drop to a 26-26 record.
Aggressive Simmons sets tone
Ben Simmons was at his aggressive best in the first half of this one, relentlessly pushing the pace and threatening the Grizzlies defence in transition, resulting in a number of trademark finishes in the painted area.
A 10-point second quarter helped the Sixers break the game open, as they outscored the young Grizzlies 32-19 in the period.
Among those points was this ferocious jam as the Memphis defence parted the seas.
Comin' through. 😤@BenSimmons25 | 📺 @NBCSPhilly pic.twitter.com/rPuUtNzZLW- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 8, 2020
Overall, Simmons would finish with 22 points, 10 assists and four rebounds on a typically efficient 9-for-14 from the field and as is often the case, the Sixers looked at their best with the Australian at his aggressive best.
Korkmaz explodes for career-night
On a squad that lacked outside shooting prior to the additions of Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III at the trade deadline, Furkan Korkmaz has become an integral part of Brett Brown's rotation with his willingness to shoot the outside ball enough to make him a valuable contributor.
Coming into the game against Memphis, the 22-year-old was knocking down 37.7 percent of his tries from the outside while averaging 8.8 points per game.
From waaayyy out there.@FurkanKorkmaz | #PhilaUnite pic.twitter.com/t0Z9QRAcuJ- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) February 8, 2020
Blowing those averages out of the water, Korkmaz poured in a career-high 34 points on 7-for-9 shooting from deep, adding six rebounds and four assists to go with it in what was by far the best performance of his young career.
With the game iced, Korkmaz had the home crowd in raptures, as they continued to ride every shot as his previous career-high tally of 24 points was surpassed.
With Josh Richardson returning from a hamstring injury, Korkmaz returned to the second unit on this night, but that will hardly matter if he keeps knocking down the long ball, head coach Brown will have no choice but to play him major minutes.
Embiid leaves with neck soreness
Joel Embiid registered a 10 point, 10 rebound, double-double in the first half, before failing to return to the floor after the break.
The Sixers would announce the big man would be out for the night with neck stiffness.
Joel Embiid has neck stiffness and will not return to tonight's game.- Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 8, 2020
Embiid did play 32 minutes against Milwaukee just 24 hours earlier, tallying 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Perhaps he had a rough sleep on the plane?
Ja struggles with aggressive Philadelphia defence
The Sixers struggles on offence are well known, but they can still certainly throw some terrifying defensive lineups at you, as rookie sensation Ja Morant found out first hand in this one.
Morant finished just 4-for-12 from the field for 15 points and failed to accumulate his usual array of highlight reel plays. Backcourt partner Dillon Brooks had similar issues, tallying just nine points while also finishing 4-for-12.
The good news for Memphis is that they will now fly to DC for a meeting with a Wizards squad where the defence is often optional. Seems like the perfect tonic for a bounce back performance from the Rookie of the Year favourite.
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