Instant Replay: Pistons 114, Sixers 104

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Instant Replay: Pistons 114, Sixers 104

BOX SCORE

The Sixers knew their previous two games in which they suffered lopsided losses were not a true indication of the way they want to and usually do play.

They opened Friday’s matchup against Detroit with a 36-point first quarter and proceeded to keep coming at Detroit with speed and a mentality focused on getting in the paint.

The mentality stayed, but the shot-making disappeared.

The Sixers ended up suffering a 114-104 loss to drop their record to 12-24 on the season. The Pistons (15-22) snapped a six-game skid with the victory.

James Anderson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 29. He traded places with Hollis Thompson.

Tony Wroten returned to the rotation after missing the last two games with flu-like symptoms and a migraine headache.

Lavoy Allen was sidelined for the first time this season because of a calf injury.

Turning point
Brandon Jennings made a three-pointer with 3:17 to play to give the Pistons their biggest lead of the game at 105-98.

The Pistons average 6.1 made threes per game. Jennings’ three-pointer was their 11th of the game against the Sixers.

Follow the leader
Michael Carter-Williams was coming off a career-high 33 points in the Sixers’ blowout loss to the Cavs on Tuesday.

Carter-Williams made seven of his first 10 shots before finishing 9 of 20 for 21 points.

Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 22 points. Spencer Hawes had his 12th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Josh Smith led the Pistons with 22 points. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, had seven assists, five blocks and four steals.

Andre Drummond finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds compared to his 31 and 19 in the first meeting between the two teams this season. Drummond also had six blocks on Friday.

Jennings contributed 19 points and six assists.

Stat-egic
The Pistons came into Friday night’s game the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 14.4 per game. They had 62 total rebounds against the Sixers, including a season-high 25 at the offensive end.

The Sixers had 42 rebounds as a team.

Take a bow
Detroit buckled down defensively in the second half. After allowing the Sixers to shoot 54.2 percent in the first half, the Pistons held Brett Brown’s squad to 15 of 47 (31.9 percent) in the final two quarters.

The Sixers had nine turnovers through three quarters before giving the ball away seven times in the final frame.

What’s next?
Don’t look now but the once-struggling New York Knicks come to town on a three-game winning streak for Saturday night’s game.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler will miss the game with an upper-respiratory illness.

It remains to be seen if J.R Smith will be back in the New York rotation. Smith was benched during the Knicks’ win over the Miami Heat on Thursday after the league fined last season’s Sixth Man of the Year $50,000 for attempting to untie a second opponent’s sneaker prior to a free throw.

Smith is averaging 11.3 points per game this season, down from last year’s career high of 18.1.

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid will have to hope NBA coaches trust the process.

Embiid on Thursday was not named a starter in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler locked in the three Eastern Conference frontcourt spots. Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan rounded out the backcourt.

James (25.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists) and Antetokounmpo (23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists) were locks as starters. That left Butler, Kevin Love and Embiid as the next in contention. Butler is a two-time All-Star averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 36.8 minutes for the 21-22 Bulls. Love is posting 20.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 31.6 minutes per game on the Eastern Conference-leading, 29-11 Cavaliers.

The Western Conference starting spots went to Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis. 

The voting was made up of fan votes (50 percent), player votes (25 percent) and media votes (25 percent). Embiid has a chance to be voted in by the NBA coaches, whose reserve selections will be announced on Jan. 26. 

Embiid would have been named a starter had the results been based on fan voting (50 percent). He finished third ahead of Love and Butler.

Embiid was in the running for a starting role during a breakout rookie season. He is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. Even though his playing time is capped at 28 minutes, he ranks seventh among all players in scoring per 48 minutes. He is eighth overall in free throw attempts per game (7.9) and 10th in those made (6.2).

Embiid had obstacles, though, when it came to the voting: rookie status, 28-minute restriction, limited games played (29) because of his allocated workload, and the Sixers’ record.

Even though the All-Star Game highlights individual achievements, team record is often taken into consideration. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine games (see story), but still stand well below .500 at 14-26.

When it came to the players’ vote, it is hard for a rookie who hasn’t even competed against every team in the league to make a strong enough impression for another player to influence their perception of the top talent. Embiid finished outside of the top five in the players' vote, behind James, Antetokounmpo, Butler, Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis. Meanwhile, the Sixers' big man finished fifth in the media vote.

Embiid and the Sixers were very active in pushing for the fan votes. Embiid received the social media support of celebrities including Triple H, Kevin Hart and MLB MVP Mike Trout, among others. The Sixers promoted Embiid through a Shirley Temple campaign based on his favorite drink.

Embiid picked up major steam in the last week of voting. He had trailed Love by 16,028 fan votes in the second returns on Jan. 12.

He took to Twitter to express his gratitude.