Joel Embiid went to the bench with 9:07 left in regulation during the Philadelphia 76ers’ game against the Charlotte Hornets. Ben Simmons came in for him, and the Sixers led by 10 points.
They weren’t playing with the same fast pace that helped them outscore the Hornets by 15 points in the second quarter, but instead were trying to maintain the lead.
Then the Hornets started to make a push. As the Hornets took the lead with 6:35 left, Embiid came back in the game with about six minutes left. Arguably the most impressive play he made (of many) came in the form of a 3-pointer with just under 35 seconds left to tie the game. His shot from beyond the arc was the only field goal the Sixers had in the last 7:22 of regulation.
Embiid scored a season-high 42 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, as his dominance helped the Sixers walk away with a narrow 133-132 overtime win. It was a win which helped the Sixers remain undefeated on their home floor this season.
The scoring drought the Sixers had to end regulation was in direct opposition to how they played during the first half and for some of the third quarter. At one point the Sixers led by as many as 21 points, and that was largely thanks to attacking the Hornets in transition. Philadelphia finished the game with 28 fastbreak points.
Simmons led the break well, dishing out a season-high 13 assists. The Sixers scored 21 fast break points in the first half and played with good pace.
But as they got away from the fastbreak in the second half, their offense started to crumble. Embiid took the bulk of the scoring load in the fourth, totaling 16 of the Sixers’ 23 points. He scored 11 of his points in the fourth from the free throw line, causing headaches for the Hornets inside.
For the Sixers, having Embiid is a luxury. He’s one of the top scorers in the league, averaging 28.8 points per game this season.
Still, the Sixers should not have had to rely on Embiid to help them stay in the game. Though another long scoring drought such as this one isn’t likely to be a common occurrence, it still shouldn’t happen with this team. Although the offense has been inconsistent this season, this group has too much talent to have field goal droughts that last even five minutes.
Simmons needed to be more aggressive late in the game as well, considering he scored just one point in the fourth quarter. He flipped the script and turned on the aggression in overtime, which was desperately needed. The reigning Rookie of the Year had five points along with a clutch block on Kemba Walker to help the Sixers seal the game.
What Embiid has done this season on both ends of the floor has been huge to the Sixers’ success. This game against the Hornets, however, is a sign that the team needs more contributions on the offensive end to close out games.