What a game!
The Portland Trail Blazers held their nerve down the stretch to escape with a thrilling 118-114 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, despite big games from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Despite a tough shooting night, Damian Lillard led the charge with 30 points and seven assists, but it was Carmelo Anthony, who turned out to be the hero, turning back the clock with a dominant fourth quarter to move the Blazers to 14-10 on the season, good for fifth in the Western Conference.
Here are the key takeaways from tonight's thrilling win:
Vintage Melo lights up 4th Q
Who said Carmelo Anthony was finished?
The 36-year-old made it look like it was 2011 instead of 2021 as he took over the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of his season-high 24 points in the final frame, including a pair of game-sealing free throws with 3.1 seconds to go.
🔥 17 in the 4th for Melo powers POR. 🔥@carmeloanthony x @trailblazers pic.twitter.com/8HwnX5NVTW- NBA (@NBA) February 12, 2021
With the 76ers defence zeroed in on Lillard, trapping him as he crossed half-court, Anthony siezed control of the game, scoring 15 points in the first seven minutes of the period, connecting on his first six shots.
Tobias Harris played solid defence against the future Hall of Famer, but it mattered for little as he got to his spots with ease, doing what he does best, rising up over defenders, draining jumper after jumper.
"He carried us in the fourth, he really got on a roll and he was vintage Melo," Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said post-game.
"Hitting threes, hitting some off-balance shots, he was just in a real rhythm and he provided points when we needed them."
The Blazers hand the Sixers starting five their first loss of the season. They were 14-0 coming into tonight.- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 12, 2021
Portland have gone 6-5 since losing CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic to injuries.
They're 5th in the West. pic.twitter.com/TRVPxpF0pH
The Blazers went on to outscore the 76ers 29-21 in the fourth quarter, handing them their first loss playing their preferred starting lineup of Simmons-Curry-Green-Harris-Embiid.
Gary Trent Jr. added 19 points on 5-of-7 from deep, while Enes Kanter held his own in the paint, finishing with 10 points and 14 rebounds in the win.
Simmons and Embiid showcase two-way talent
The Philadelphia 76ers remain at the top of the Eastern conference at 18-8 on the season, despite two losses to the Blazers in the space of a week.
Ben Simmons didn't play in their previous meeting, but the Aussie made his presence felt all over the floor tonight, locking in on the defensive end, alongside Matisse Thybulle as they combined to help keep Lillard to 6-of-21 shooting.
Simmons stuffed the stat sheet with a season-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting, adding 11 rebounds and nine assists, coming up with a huge sequence down the stretch, demonstrating his two-way value to the team.
In the final 30 seconds, with Philly trailing by three points, Simmons got the stop at one end, before racing down the court and finding Seth Curry for the wing 3-pointer which locked things up at 114-114 with 22.1 seconds remaining.
SETH CURRY FOR 👌 TO TIE THE GAME!@sixers 114@trailblazers 114- NBA (@NBA) February 12, 2021
22.1 left on TNT, Portland ball. pic.twitter.com/YY9YtH1Toc
The two-time All-Star was aggressive from the jump, scoring 13 points in the first quarter, going toe-to-toe with Lillard who went for 19. When Simmons is playing with that level of confidence, doing what he does best - scoring in the paint and finding open shooters, the 76ers are a tough team to beat.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid continued his MVP-calibre campaign with another big night, recording 35 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, including 23 points in the first half.
Embiid joined Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson as the only players in franchise history to score 25+ points in 10 straight games.
Joel Embiid is the 4th player in 76ers history to score 25+ points in at least 10 straight games, joining Allen Iverson, Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley. pic.twitter.com/cC0RVKyVSi- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 12, 2021
Tobias Harris chipped in 17 points, six rebounds and five assists for the 76ers, while Seth Curry continued his strong start to the season, finishing with 15 points.
The 76ers continue their road trip on Saturday (E.T.) when they visit the Phoenix Suns, while the Blazers will host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday (E.T.).
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