Sixers-Clippers observations, best and worst awards: Joel Embiid’s shot-blocking, Landry Shamet’s presence, T.J. McConnell’s diminished role
Dario Saric is hurting the Sixers.
Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards from the 76ers' 122-113 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center:
– It's easy to justify giving Landry Shamet quality minutes. In fact, one could argue that he's a better option than Markelle Fultz at starting shooting guard if JJ Redick keeps coming off the bench. The emergence of the sharp-shooting Shamert is one of the reasons the Sixers felt comfortable declining to pick up Furkan Korkmaz's third-year option. The rookie had 13 points and hit 3 of 6 three-pointers.
– Joel Embiid's stellar defense is being overshadowed by averaging 28.6 points and 11.9 rebounds through nine games. However, no one blinked an eye when he said, "I want to be the defensive play of the year, and tonight I think I showed that." Embiid, who's ranked fourth in the league in blocks at 2.33 per game, erases teammates' defensive miscues. One example came after Lou Williams blew past Fultz near the three-point line with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the first quarter Thursday. Williams drove the lane only to see his shot swatted from the side by Embiid.
– Dario Saric is hurting the Sixers right now. He's short on all kinds of shots through the first nine games, including layups. One of his worst misses came when he drove past Clippers power forward Danilo Gallinari on his way to an expected easy finger-roll layup. However, his shot hit the front of the rim with 7:07 left before intermission and right into the hands of Gallinari. It's obvious that his legs are tired from playing internationally for his native Croatia this summer.
– Robert Covington is quietly having a solid start to the season. The small forward is shooting a team-best 44.8 percent on three-pointers after making both his attempts Thursday. It shouldn't come as a surprise that he also has stood out defensively. Covington ranks fifth in the league in steals at 2.22 per game and ninth in blocks at 1.89.
– Being by far the best shooter of the three point guards won't guarantee T.J. McConnell playing time. McConnell received a "Did Not Play – Coaches Decision" Thursday night despite shooting 55.6 percent this season and having a great command of the offense. The DNP comes after he played just 7:34 in Tuesday's loss to the Toronto Raptors. His minutes are being diminished to get Fultz more playing time as the primary ballhandler.
Best and worst
Best performance: This was easy. Embiid gets this by finishing with a season-high 41 points and game highs of 13 rebounds and four blocks. He became the first Sixer to score 40-plus points at home since Hall of Famer Allen Iverson had 46 points on Nov. 24, 2006, against the Chicago Bulls.
Worst performance: There's no way Saric could have avoiding receiving this. He was once again an offensive liability, missing seven of eight shots.
Best defensive performance: This was tough, because Embiid had four blocks. But Covington gets it for having four steals and three blocks.
Worst statistic: Clippers center Marcin Gortat had more personal fouls (four) than shots (one, a miss) in 9:08 of action.
Best statistic: Gallinari's going 11-for-11 from the foul line.