Yep, the 76ers are consistent.
Lose on the road and win at home has been their formula. So of course they would defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 120-113, at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night after losing four straight road games.
The Sixers improved to 24-14. The Thunder (20-16) had their five-game winning streak snapped. OKC had entered the game as the league’s hottest team, winning 9 of 10.
Philly improved to 17-2 at home after dropping to 7-12 on the road Friday. The Sixers also ended a 10-game losing streak to the Thunder in Philly. Their last home win came in 2008.
Joel Embiid showed a lot of heart.
The center wasn’t the Sixers’ best player but he was the toughest, suffering a dislocated left ring finger in the first quarter. He went to the locker room twice to get it treated in the quarter.
“It was pretty bad,” Embiid said of the pain. "I was basically playing with one hand. So it was pretty bad, but in the midst of the losing streak, I wanted to make sure that I do everything possible to try to get us the win.
“I’m glad we got the win.”
Embiid finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and a season-high 8 assists in 32 minutes, 37 seconds. He had his hand checked for ligament damage after the game. The two-time All-Star said there’s a possibility he won’t play Thursday against the Boston Celtics.
“You know I want to play,” he said. “It is a big game. Last time we played them we had great success, but then again, whatever they want me to do. Obviously I will try to fight it. But they care about me and whatever they want me to do I guess.”
Embiid thinks he injured his finger a couple of plays before he was first subbed out with 5:39 left in the opening quarter. That’s when he initially went to the locker room.
“I thought I felt my finger snapping, and I thought I fractured it," he said.
But he was able to re-enter the game after the X-rays were negative.
Embiid, however, was hampered by the injury. He couldn’t use both hands for rebounds on defense. So he tapped at the ball. Offensively, he was unable to put a hand on the ball or dribble with his left hand. But he powered through it.
“For him to go back in and come back out and play, I was shocked that he was able to come back out and play,” coach Brett Brown said. "I thought he was done for that game.
“That is a tough return to the court. That is a competitive statement. I appreciate him. I respect that.”
Josh Richardson finished with a team-high 23 points. Ben Simmons added 17 points, a season-high 15 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Tobias Harris (18 points), Al Horford (13), and reserve Trey Burke (12) were the Sixers’ other double-digit scorers.
Steven Adams paced the Thunder with game highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds.
But this night was highlighted by Embiid’s gritty performance.
The second time he exited the game was with 1:26 left in the first quarter. At that time, his finger awkwardly pointed outward in front of his little finger.
“I nearly threw up when I saw that,” Simmons said. “I’m glad he came back out. We needed him. He’s a big part of this team.”
Embiid returned at the start of the second quarter with his fingers taped. He rarely used his left hand before being subbed out of the game with 7:44 left before intermission.
He was more aggressive after going back in with 2:46 before intermission.
He had two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first quarter. He added four more points on 2-for-3 shooting in the second. In addition to his six points, Embiid had five rebounds and three assists at the half.
The Sixers closed out the half with a 16-5 run to take a 62-52 advantage.
Harris had 13 points at the break while making 3 of 4 three-pointers. Richardson added 12 points, while Simmons had 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists at the break.
Embiid came out strong in the second half. He scored a bucket 9 seconds in to put the Sixers up 12. Then he added a pair of foul shots on the ensuing possession to make it 66-42. He later altered Danilo Gallinari’s layup with 10:52 left in the third quarter.
The Thunder pulled within one point twice in the fourth quarter. The second time came on Dennis Schroder’s layup to make it 98-97 with 7:44 left.
But the Sixers went on to take a nine-point cushion before holding on for a 120-113 win.
Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle missed his seventh consecutive game with a right-knee sprain and bone bruise. The recovery time was estimated at two to four weeks. He had the knee evaluated Saturday, at the two-week mark.
Thybulle, who had been doing moderate shooting, was upgraded to three-on-three scrimmaging during practice Sunday.