Sixers battle powerful Warriors but fall, 116-96
Steph Curry scored 25 points for Golden State. His brother, Seth, paced the Sixers with 24.
SAN FRANCISCO — The 76ers were more competitive than expected, but they still exited the Chase Center with a loss.
The Golden State Warriors battled back from a 19-point first-half deficit to escape with a 116-96 victory Wednesday night. This marked the second time this season a team won by 20 points after trailing by 19 points or more. The Los Angeles Clippers did it against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 5.
The loss dropped the Sixers to 10-9. They went 2-4 on their six-game road trip. Meanwhile, Golden State, the league’s best team, improved to 16-2.
On this night, the Sixers were doomed by 21 turnovers, horrid second-half shooting (30%) and solid second-half shooting by the Warriors’ solid second-half shooting (59.5%).
Golden State’s perennial All-NBA selection, Steph Curry, finished with game highs of 25 points and 10 assists while making 6 of 11 three-pointers. His brother, Sixers guard Seth Curry, paced the visitors with 24 points. Tyrese Maxey added 19 points, five assists and three rebounds.
The Sixers welcomed regular starters Curry and Danny Green back for this game while Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid remained sidelined.
» READ MORE: Joel Embiid’s importance, Tyrese Maxey’s emergence and more takeaways from the Sixers’ long road trip
Green returned after missing the last four games in his second time sidelined with left hamstring tightness. However, he came off the bench on this night. He missed three games earlier this season. Meanwhile, Curry returned after missing Monday’s game with lower-back tightness.
“It’s just nice to have guys back,” Doc Rivers said.
The Sixers didn’t know how much they could expect out of Green after he was sidelined for 10 days. However, they felt it was nice to have their glue guy back on the floor.
“So it’s just good for have warm bodies, more bodies,” Rivers said.
Curry looked good in Wednesday morning’s shootaround and in the game. The sharpshooter had an off night from beyond the arc. But he was solid at scoring on drives and knocking down foul shots.
Curry made 8 of 16 shots and made all eight of his foul shots. His only blemish was missing all five of his three-pointers.
» READ MORE: Stop dunking on Ben Simmons. He clearly isn’t mentally healthy enough to help the Sixers. | Marcus Hayes
Seventeen of his points came in the first half. Meanwhile, Green had one of his best shooting nights of the season. He scored all 10 of his points in the first half on 4-for-4 shooting. He missed his lone shot attempt after intermission.
But Curry got things going for the Sixers, scoring eight of their first 15 points.
“I felt good,” he said. “Two days can do a lot for you. So I felt pretty good. I wouldn’t say I had a great game, but I was solid. If I would have made some three-pointers, it would have been a little bit easier. We kind of stalled there offensively as a team in the second half.
“We had a chance. I think there’s a lot of good stuff we can take from this game.”
Curry played alongside Matisse Thybulle, Georges Niang, Andre Drummond, and Maxey in what was the Sixers’ 11th different starting lineup in 19 games. Green came off the bench with 5 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
He didn’t show any rust from his long layoff.
The small forward buried his first three-pointer with 3:20 left to put the Sixers up 22-13. He ended up shooting 3-for-3, including making both three-pointers, while scoring six points in 5:28 of action in the first period. On a minutes restriction, Green only played 17 minutes and sat out the fourth quarter.
“Hamstring feels great,” Green said. “There’s other things I was trying to attend to, but the hamstring feels really good. Wish I could have played more minutes, but they didn’t allow me to play more minutes .... I was trying to get another extra five or six. But they didn’t let me go back in the fourth.”
Harris participated in the shootaround. However, the Sixers didn’t think he was ready to play. The power forward strained his left hip late in Saturday’s contest against the Portland Trail Blazers. The goal was for him to rest up Monday night, see how his hip felt on Tuesday, and test it out in Wednesday’s shootaround.
Meanwhile, the target date for Embiid’s return will be Saturday’s home game versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wednesday marked the ninth game he’s missed since testing positive for COVID-19. Embiid has been working out recently at the team’s practice facility in preparation for his return to play.
With Curry, Maxey and Green leading the way, the Sixers took a 61-52 lead into halftime. They led by as many as 19 points. A lot of their dominance had to do with shooting 61.9% in the first quarter and 55% in the half. Maxey had 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting in the first half.
But as expected, the Warriors mounted a comeback.
They made six of their first seven shots of the third quarter to take a 66-63 lead with 8:45 left in the period. The Warriors went on to outscore the Sixers, 34-23, in the quarter to lead 86-84 heading into the fourth. The made just 8 of 21 shots (38%) in the quarter, including making 2 of 7 three-pointers (28.5%).
» READ MORE: Matisse Thybulle is excelling on offense for the Sixers since returning from his COVID-19 absence
Turnovers doom Sixers
The Sixers’ 21 turnovers led to 38 Warriors points.
“Just indecision,” Green said of what led to the turnovers. “You can’t turn the ball over against a team like that with how they play. They get up and down are more dangerous in transition. From half court, you have to chance, but getting out in transition is dangerous.”
This was atypical of the Sixers. They came into the contest averaging the least amount of turnovers in the league at 12.1. A season ago, the Sixers averaged 14.2.
“We talk about it every day, we really do,” Rivers said before the game. “We talk about it every single day. We work on our execution every single day. I think a lot of that is a lot of the guys are back from last year and that helps.
“I just think we value the ball. We have to continue to do that.”
Unfortunately for them, they didn’t continue to do it against the Warriors.
Things almost got a little heated
Niang fouled out on an offensive foul with 4 minutes, 33 seconds remaining on the game. He shoved Juan Toscano-Anderson to the floor while going after a rebound. Toscano-Anderson got up and went after Niang on the play. The players had to be separated. The Warriors appeared to have some choice words for Niang as he went to the bench.
Discussing Ahmaud Arbery
Rivers talks to his team about key moments in history and social justice issues. On Wednesday, he didn’t talk a lot about the Ahmaud Arbery case before facing the Warriors. But he did discuss it during his pregame press conference.
“I don’t want anybody to go to jail innocent,” Rivers said. “But I do think guilty people should. I was very proud, because you have to have the right principle in our jury system for it to go well. It shouldn’t matter if we think alike, look alike. ... From my seat, I think they got it right.”
Three white men — Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — were found guilty of murder and other charges for pursuing and fatally shooting Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man in February 2020 in Glynn County, Ga. That case, along with the killing of George Floyd, helped inspire the racial justice protests of last year. The three men face the possibility of life in prison when they’re sentenced.
“The only sad part of that whole thing was they walked around for two months afterward,” Rivers said, “and if it wasn’t for a cellphone video, they would have never been arrested.
“But I’m glad that this jury got it right in my opinion. And by the way, just the principle. So I’m proud of the jury because they looked like the defendants and they did the right thing.”