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.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Sixers-Pelicans 5 things: Joel Embiid takes on dominating Anthony Davis

Sixers-Pelicans 5 things: Joel Embiid takes on dominating Anthony Davis

76ers (4-18) vs. Pelicans (7-15)
8 p.m. on TCN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live starts at 7:30

The Sixers will try to snap their eight-game losing skid when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on Thursday night.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Walking wounded, part II
After the Sixers were limited to nine available players in Tuesday's loss to the beat-up Memphis Grizzlies, things won't be much better in the health department in New Orleans.

Sure, Joel Embiid's expected return after sitting out the second half of a back-to-back set for rest will be a welcome boost. However, the Sixers are still dealing with a host of other ailments that will likely limit them to just 10 healthy bodies on Thursday night.

The Pelicans surely won't shed a tear for the Sixers because they have their own injury issues. New Orleans could have as many as five players sidelined, including former Sixer Jrue Holiday with turf toe.

2. The next big thing
All of the injuries won't decrease the game's intrigue, mainly because of the matchup at center between Embiid and Anthony Davis.

Embiid is coming off a subpar performance in his last outing against the Denver Nuggets, but the big man has still been as advertised this season. The rookie is putting up 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 23.3 minutes a game. Embiid is also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and an even 50.0 percent from three-point range.

On the other side, Davis has been an absolute monster for the Pelicans this season, even if it hasn't translated into many wins. 

The three-time All-Star leads the NBA in scoring with 31.6 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting. While carrying the scoring load, Davis has still been able to average a career-high 11.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals a night.

This should be the first of many meetings between two big men that look to dominate the future of the league.

3. Glass repair
With Embiid out on Tuesday, the Sixers were dominated 69-54 in the rebounding battle against the Grizzlies.

They should find things a little easier in that department against the Pelicans. Despite Davis' best efforts on the boards, New Orleans has allowed a league-high 48.9 rebounds to opponents this season. 

With Embiid back in the lineup, Ersan Ilyasova coming off a 17-rebound game and Richaun Holmes always active, the Sixers should be able to control the rebounding category.

4. Injuries
Robert Covington (knee/illness) is available to play. Jahlil Okafor (illness), Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and Ben Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Holiday (toe) and E'Twaun Moore (toe) are questionable. Tyreke Evans (knee), Dante Cunningham (knee) and Quincy Pondexter (knee) are out for the Pelicans.

5. This and that
•  The Sixers are trying to avoid a franchise-record 24th straight road loss.

•  The Sixers and Pelicans split the season series in 2015-16 with each team winning at home.

•  Ilyasova is averaging 16.2 points and 8.2 boards so far in December.