HOUSTON – Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 115-107 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the Toyota Center.
The Sixers might have to consider keeping Dario Saric in the starting lineup. The power forward had another solid game. He was more active and played with a better rhythm. Saric has averaged 13 points in his back-to-back starts. He has averaged 5.6 in his five games as a reserve.
Folks are just going to have to deal with Joel Embiid's crashing on the court at least twice a game. It appears to be something that happens because of his all-out effort. The Sixers center fell to the court three times Monday night and has landed at least twice on the floor in most games he's played this season.
Less is more when it comes to the Sixers' rotation. They shrunk their rotation to nine players Monday. For most of the game, it was a cohesive group on the court.
The Sixers still are doomed by turnovers and shot-clock violations. Their 21 turnovers – seven in the fourth quarter – led to the Rockets' getting back in the game. One of those fourth-quarter turnovers came on a shot-clock violation, the team's second of the game.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is better than many people think. The second-year reserve guard had a lot to do with the Sixers victory. Eleven of his 17 points came in the first half to give the Sixers a spark. Then his foul shots with 11.8 seconds left clinched the game.
‘Best’ and ‘Worst’ awards
Best performance: This was a tough one, because Sixers point guard Ben Simmons scored eight of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. But I had to give it to Embiid. He finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists two steals and one block in 24 minutes, 57 seconds. The 23-year-old joined Fat Lever of Denver (Jan. 11, 1990) and Pau Gasol of Chicago (Dec. 7, 2015) as the only players to finish with at least 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in 25 or fewer minutes dating to the 1983-84 season.
Worst performance: This goes to Trevor Ariza for not realizing when it's time to stop shooting. The Rockets small forward finished with seven points on 3-for-12 shooting. He missed 8 of 9 three-point tries.
Best defensive performance: T.J. McConnell was the obvious choice. The Sixers reserve point guard finished with a career-high-tying two blocks and a steal.
Worst statistic: James Harden failed to make a basket in the fourth quarter. The Rockets point guard led all players with 29 points. However, he missed all five of his shot attempts in 7:07 of action in the final quarter.
Best statistic: This goes to McConnell's three-point shooting. The third-year veteran made all three of his attempts.
Worst of the worst: I had to give this to the Sixers' 21 turnovers. Things were getting so bad that they looked as if they were playing a game of hot potato at one point in the fourth quarter.