DETROIT – The 76ers prevailed with their best player watching the entire game on the bench in warm-ups.
With Joel Embiid being rested, the Sixers defeated the Pistons, 117-111, Friday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Jimmy Butler took up the slack, finishing with 38 points on 13-of-27 shooting from the field. He also made 11-of-12 foul shots to go with six rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block. This marked the four-time All-Star’s second-straight game with him scoring 38 points. He dropped 38 in Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.
On this night, Butler scored 13 of the Sixers' 28 fourth-quarter points.
Ben Simmons added 18 points and 13 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season. JJ Redick and Mike Muscala also had 18 points apiece.
The four players all contributed in a late run to win this game.
Redick made a technical foul to pull them within 100-98 with 6 minutes, 35 seconds remaining. Twelve seconds later, the shooting guard’s three-pointer gave his squad a 101-100 lead. Then Butler scored a pull-up jumper before Simmons added a driving dunk. Muscala got into the act with a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 108-100 with 4:07 left to cap a 13-0 run by the Sixers. They blocked seven shots as the Pistons missed 10 of their shot attempts during that run.
“We knew we could bring it back with defense,” Simmons said. “That’s what we are trying to build our team up with defense. Defensively, we played a great game, blocking shots, rebounding the ball.”
The Sixers improved to 18-9 with the victory. They will face the Pistons (13-10) again on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid is expected to return for that game.
The All-Star center missed the game for what the team said was for rest. However, Embiid told Philly.com before the game he’s not tired. He also expressed frustration with how he has been used since the blockbuster trade for Butler on Nov. 12. Embiid said his new role, which is to space the floor, had a lot to do with his recent struggles.
Amir Johnson, starting in Embiid’s place, finished with three steals and two rebounds. He failed to score while missing his two shot attempts.
The Pistons were paced by Blake Griffin’s 31 points and 12 rebounds. Andre Drummond added 21 points and 10 rebounds. St. Joe’s product Langston Galloway had 12 points in a reserve role.