CLEVELAND – The 76ers got back to their winning ways, and looked like a contender in doing so.
They snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 114-95, Sunday afternoon. The Sixers (8-5) won for just the third time in their last eight games. Meanwhile, the Cavs (4-8) lost their third in a row.
“Going into this game it was, ‘We need a win,” the Sixers’ Tobias Harris said.
The Sixers knew they needed to come ready. They wanted to bring energy through their defense and use it to fuel the offense.
“I thought coming in we had a great mindset," said Harris, who led all scorers with 27 points on 12-for-14 shooting. "We had a mindset of getting this 'W' and playing well.”
Harris, who added five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks in a well-rounded game, shot 85.7% from the field, the best percent recorded by a Sixer making at least 12 shots since Andre Miller duplicated the performance on Jan. 3, 2009, in San Antonio against the Spurs.
In the process, the visitors once again played like a team favored to reach the NBA Finals.
A lot of that had to do with their shooting, especially in the first half. The Sixers shot 68.3% (28-for-41) in the first half and 54.8% for the game. They made 9-of-23 three-pointers for 39.1%.
But for the most part, the Sixers scored on a lot of higher percentage shots around the rim. And sticking to their game plan, they generated a lot of offense through their defense. The Sixers held the Cavs to 37.8% shooting.
“Any time you get high [shooting] percentage and play good defense, that’s a good combination," Harris said.
The Sixers’ field-goal percentage, points (68), and field goals (28) in the first half were season highs. Their 20 assists in the first two quarters were the most for any half.
The Sixers’ sharpshooting enabled them to open up two 29-point advantages in the second quarter. They ended up taking a commanding 68-44 lead into the second half.
Ben Simmons posted his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and a season-high 11 assists. He also had 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and 3 turnovers. His four double-doubles are second on the team behind Joel Embiid’s six.
Harris and Simmons were two of the Sixers’ six double-figure scorers.
Embiid (14 points), James Ennis (14), Furkan Korkmaz (13), and Al Horford (11) were the others. Simmons and Embiid sat out the fourth quarter.
The visitors had 10 players score in the first half. Embiid scored all of his points in the first two quarters, Harris added 12. Ennis had nine, followed by Simmons and Josh Richardson (eight), Matisse Thybulle (six), Korkmaz (four) and Trey Burke (two).
This was Burke’s first appearance since Nov. 10, when he scored 12 points against the Charlotte Hornets.
He entered Sunday’s game at the 2-minute, 28-second mark of the first quarter and quickly made an impact. The reserve point guard assisted on Embiid’s 6-foot hook shot with 1:48 left in the quarter. Then Burke scored a 16-foot jumper 20 seconds later.
Burke, who finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists Sunday, didn’t play in the previous two games due to coach’s decision. He also missed Tuesday’s game against the Cavs due to left calf tightness.
The Sixers opened up a commanding 29-point lead (60-31) on Harris’ dunk with 4:05 left in the half. They picked up where they left off in the second half, scoring the first seven points to open up a 31-point cushion (75-44).