Of course, the 76ers beat the Los Angeles Clippers.
Winning prime-time, marquee games at the Wells Fargo Center is what the Sixers are known for. This one was a 110-103 decision.
Philly won this game thanks to a balanced attack led by Ben Simmons’ second consecutive triple-double and sixth of the season. The point guard finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Joel Embiid also had 26 points to go with nine rebounds.
“When we add up Ben Simmons and Joel’s stat line, it’s arguably the best game that those two have paired with since I’ve been the coach here,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “The partnership between Joel and Ben needs to be acknowledged.”
So does Josh Richardson’s late-game heroics, scoring 17 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Yet, there were plenty of storylines heading into the matchup.
Tobias Harris was playing his former team for the first time since it traded him. This marked the first time Al Horford didn’t start in a game since his rookie season for the Atlanta Hawks in 2007-08. And there was the question of how the Sixers faithful would react to Embiid after he shushed them on Sunday and trolled them on social media Monday.
Well, as expected, the three-time All-Star center was given the Philly salute by getting booed loudly during pregame introductions. It was actually the third consecutive game that he was booed by the home crowd.
Yet those boos turned into cheers during what was Philly’s third consecutive victory.
“We are all human beings. If I can take it, then everybody else can take it, too,” he said of his exchanges with the fans. "We learn from it and we move on. I got to do a better job. They got to do a better job. I understand where they come from.
"But then again, if you dish it, you got to be able to take it back. But at the end of the day in my location [Monday] night, it’s all love.”
The Sixers (34-21) can add this game to their list of marquee statement home wins over elite teams. The fifth-place squad in the Eastern Conference now has victories over the top four teams in both conferences at home.
Philly owns a league-best 25-2 home record.
“We love to compete,” Simmons said of dealing with all of the storylines. "You see that from everyone on the floor, especially that five that was out there and Al, and the guys we just picked up [Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III]. They love to come in and compete and hustle.
“It’s kind of just trickling down to everybody on the team.”
Kawhi Leonard finished with a game-high 30 points to go with 9 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks for the Clippers (37-17). Paul George struggled, finishing with 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting.
But this contest had to be special for Harris.
This marked his first game against the Clippers after they traded him to the Sixers on Feb. 6, 2019. The forward finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Eleven of his points came in the first quarter.
Harris started at power forward due to the Sixers’ drastic change to their starting lineup. And it had nothing to do with Richardson returning to the lineup in his third game back from injury.
Sharpshooting Furkan Korkmaz started at small forward while Horford, a struggling power forward, was moved to the bench. Robinson replaced Korkmaz at small forward at the start of the second half.
This marked the first time Horford didn’t start in a game since Nov. 21, 2007.
“I just accepted it," Horford said of losing his starting position. "Obviously not the position that I saw myself in. But it’s what was best for the team.”
The Sixers signed the 13th-year veteran last summer to a four-year deal that included $97 million guaranteed. However, he has struggled to find a rhythm while playing alongside Embiid.
The 33-year-old Horford went into the game averaging 12.1 points, the fewest since averaging 11.5 in his second season. Horford was also shooting a career-low 43.8% from the field.
Korkmaz (no points on 0-for-5 shooting), however, was coming off consecutive 30-plus-point performances.
On this night, Horford (9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Embiid weren’t on the court together until 2 minutes, 31 seconds remained in the third quarter.
Embiid went out during a stretch in the fourth quarter. But he came back in with 6:56 left and played with Horford, Simmons, Richardson, and Harris until Matisse Thybulle came in for Horford with 3:20 remaining.
Embiid and the Clippers’ North Philly native, Marcus Morris, got into a shoving altercation with 2:48 left under the Sixers basket. The actions occurred after Morris fouled Embiid. The two received a double-technical foul.
“We’re both physical guys,” Morris said of the incident. " It’s cool. It was just some wrapping of arms… It is what it is."
Embiid went on to split a pair of foul shots to put the Sixers up 106-97 and blocked Morris’s layup attempt 33 seconds later.
But Richardson had a huge fourth quarter to propel Philly to victory.
The shooting guard made 6 of 9 shots while his teammates were 4 of 13. Richardson was also 3-for-3 on three-pointers in the final quarter.
“I itch for moments like that and I know the rest of us do,” he said of his 17 fourth-quarter points. " In close games, we all want to be a part of that positive effort, and tonight I had a good part in it."