DETROIT – Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards from the 76ers' 133-132 overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
– The Sixers lack faith in Markelle Fultz in the clutch. How else can you explain his not playing the final 10 minutes, 12 seconds of regulation and the entire overtime? It would be one thing if Fultz was struggling. But the guard had by far his best game of the season.
– The Sixers still don't have any answers on defense. Blake Griffin basically embarrassed Philly's defenders and made a mockery of the team's decision to not double-team him. But he wasn't the only Piston who took advantage of the Sixers' subpar defense.
– Dario Saric's struggles aren't limited to shooting the ball. The Sixers power forward has had trouble keeping athletic power forwards in from of him. Griffin is just the latest in a long list of athletic bigs who have had their way with Saric.
– The Sixers lack a go-to guy outside of Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, and Ben Simmons. That's the reason coach Brett Brown still brought Redick off the bench even though Simmons was sidelined. The Sixers lose a lot of offensive production when all three players are out of the game.
– The Sixers need to be better aware in certain situations. Guys were committing careless fouls and mistakes in key moments. A prime example came when Griffin converted the game-winning three-point play with 1.8 seconds left in overtime. The Sixers had two centers on the floor, Amir Johnson and Embiid. While guarding Griffin, Johnson fell for the Pistons standout's fake handoff. That enabled Griffin to split him and Embiid, drive to the hoop, and get fouled by Robert Covington while scoring the layup. Johnson was put in a tough spot from the start.
Best performance: This was an easy one. Griffin looked like a Hall of Famer toying with middle-schoolers at a charity event. He finished with a career-high 50 points on 20-for-35 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, six assists and one block. Twenty-two of his points came in the second quarter.
Worst performance: Pistons small forward Stanley Johnson failed to score and missed all five of his shots. He had three assists, but had only one rebound in 19 minutes, 16 seconds of action.
Best defensive performance: This is a tough one, but I'm giving it to Embiid for shutting down and frustrating Pistons all-star center Andre Drummond. Embiid had three blocks and held Drummond to 6-for-20 shooting before Drummond was disqualified from the game when he received his second technical late in the fourth quarter. If only the Sixers defended Griffin as well as Embiid defended Drummond.
Worst statistic: The Sixers hit just 5 of 11 foul shots in the fourth quarter. That came after they made 13 of 15 in the first three quarters.
Best statistic: Griffin's 50 points, a career high.