The Philadelphia 76ers(8-8) were depleted as they hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves(8-8) on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia was missing its starting backcourt of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, who were both out due to foot injuries. In addition, they were without Tobias Harris, who missed his second straight game with a hip injury.
“I just felt bad,” Joel Embiid, who had 32 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, said after the loss. “We have three of our best players; Tyrese is one that puts in so much work every single day. Injuries are just something that we can’t control it. It’s just unfortunate. I’ve had my share of them, especially freak injuries. You just can’t control them, so I just felt bad for him because he [TYRESE MAXEY] puts in so much work and takes care of himself. Obviously, missing James to the same thing and Tobias being hurt too. It does suck, but next man up.”
After having a small lead in the first quarter, Philadelphia was chasing Minnesota the rest of the way. The Timberwolves led by as many as 20 points, but the 76ers were able to cut to lead to two in the fourth, and had an opportunity to tie late, but Georges Niang missed a three with 01.2 seconds left, and they fell to Minnesota 112-109.
With the loss, Philly’s three-game winning streak was snapped.
The Timberwolves scored 97 points after three quarters, but Philadelphia went to a zone defense, which was effective and almost brought them all the way back.
“We just hung in there. We kept throwing out the score,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said postgame. “We’re down eight, down seven, down six. That’s how you come back in games. I loved our fight. We had opportunities down the stretch. In the second half, I thought the zone really changed the game for us defensively.”
Embiid added on the defensive effort: “We didn’t play defense for three quarters. In the fourth, we went to zone; they didn’t know what to do and what to run against it. We just didn’t play defense for three quarters, and we put ourselves in a big hole. We were down 15, 20 most of the game. Unfortunately, it was too much to overcome.”
Now, they get a few days off before Ben Simmons, and the Brooklyn Nets come to Philadelphia on Tuesday night. After the loss to Minnesota, Embiid discussed the return of the number one overall pick by the 76ers in the 2016 NBA Draft.
“It’s another game on the schedule,” Embiid said. “I don’t know those guys; I have nothing against those guys. It’s Brooklyn against Philly. Hopefully, I feel better for that game. It’s the same goal—try go out and win. Obviously, we’re down a lot of guys right now, so we have to find ways. Tonight I wasn’t as dominant as I should have been. So, if I do feel better, I plan on trying to do whatever is possible to get that win. There’s a lot of history, but there’s really no history. It’s just a regular game. I know everybody is going to make a lot of drama about everything that’s happened. The people that were here and the people that were, but they’re not even playing. It’s going to be fine.”
-Shake Milton, who started in place of Maxey, scored 27 points while hauling in six rebounds.
-In 32 minutes, Niang posted his fourth game of at least 15 points off the bench this season.
-Both the 76ers and Timberwolves had five players in double figures. Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists.