Instant Replay: Bucks 94, Sixers 92


Instant Replay: Bucks 94, Sixers 92


MILWAUKEE -- The phrase “must-win” is used too often in sports, but if the Sixers wanted to make a run at the playoffs in the second half of the season, a win on Wednesday would go a long way toward that goal.

The Bucks came into the contest with two wins over the Sixers already this season. Milwaukee also sits in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and had a three-game lead over the Sixers coming into this game.

The Sixers could not cut into that margin as they gave up a lead in the fourth quarter of a 94-92 loss. The Bucks won the season series with one more game to play between the two teams.

Turning point
At the 9:19 mark of the fourth quarter, the Bucks took their first lead of the game at 78-77. Milwaukee was persistent. The Bucks trailed by 10 points after one quarter of play, seven at the half and three points heading into the final 12 minutes.

Follow the leader
Brandon Jennings scored 12 third-quarter points before finishing with 21. Jennings was scoreless in the fourth quarter. His backcourt running mate, Monta Ellis, led all scorers with 27.

Evan Turner led the Sixers with 20 points on 19 shots. Spencer Hawes had 19 points and nine rebounds.

Nick Young scored 12 points in the first quarter on 4 of 4 shooting from the field, including a couple three-pointers. However, he scored just two points the rest of the way.

Jrue Holiday headed into his first All-Star Game with a 16-point, 12-assist game.

Milwaukee shoots 43 percent from the field and 34 from three-point range for the season. At the half, the Bucks were shooting 36 percent from the floor and were just 2 of 8 from three.

In the third quarter, the Bucks shot 55 percent to close within three points and then proceeded to hold the Sixers to 6-of-23 shooting in the fourth quarter.

Take a bow
Former Sixers center Samuel Dalembert 20 has not played much this season when head coach Scott Skiles was in charge. With Skiles now out and Larry Sanders sidelined the last four games with a back injury, the 31-year old Dalembert has filled in nicely.

In the four games prior to Wednesday, Dalembert was averaging 16.5 points and 10 rebounds.

Against his former team, Dalembert scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

What’s next?
The Sixers will have four days to rejuvenate their bodies and minds. They have been together since training camp commenced on Oct. 1, which is 135 days of work and disappointment given they sit in ninth place in the East.

When the Sixers return for a Monday night practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, they will have 31 games to play in the regular season beginning at Minnesota on Feb. 20. They will then return home to face the champion Miami Heat on Feb. 23.

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.