Sixers 115, Rockets 107: Five quick thoughts on Philly's win
Some quick observations from the Sixers' third win of the season.
Final response. There were two opportunities in the final minutes of the game for the Sixers to stop a Rockets run and score out of a timeout. But the Rockets continued to put together stops and got within one point. It looked like the Sixers were falling apart, but they regrouped and went to their two strongest stars. Aggressive moves from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons gave the Sixers some breathing room. After some poise and calm execution, the Sixers swept the Texas series for their first consecutive wins of the season.
Complete game. The Sixers put together their best two-way performance of the season. They played the kind of defense that Brett Brown has continued to say he wants to see from his team. The Sixers finished with 10 steals and forced 15 turnover that they turned into 21 points.
Silencing doubters. With the news that Jahlil Okafor will remain out of the Sixers rotation, Amir Johnson's game has been highly scrutinized, especially with his slow start to the season. Against the Rockets, Johnson had his best game of the season, proving that he can be counted on for production on both ends of the floor. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. recording a double-double off the bench to go with two steals and just one turnover.
Stepping up. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot also had his best game of the season. Brown said that he would be playing TLC more with Markelle Fultz sidelined. In addition, J.J. Redick has not played on the Texas road trip because of tightness in his back, giving the young guns more play. The Sixers' reserve players have stepped up to the challenge. Luwawu-Cabarrot finished with 17 points. He's a player on the rise that continues to show improvement.
Missing at the line. The Rockets shot 38 free throws to the Sixers' 24. Some will argue that there was an imbalance of foul calls by the officials. But with only three players (Embiid, Simmons, Luwawu-Cabarrot) seeing the charity stripe, there is clearly a need for more guys to be aggressive at the rim to try to draw contact. On the flip side of that, foul trouble has followed the Sixers. Embiid in particular will have to continue his evolution and work on keeping his hands straight so that he can be on the floor for longer stretches to help his team.