Friday night, the Sixers and Pelicans faced off at the Smoothie King Center, with New Orleans coming out on top, 101-94.
Woof. It wasn't pretty. It was actually quite nauseating to watch. This might have honestly taken the cake to be the Sixers' worst loss of the season. They were held under 100 points for only the fifth time all season, and turned the ball over 19 times to a team who ranks 28th of 30 NBA teams in defensive rating. They got outscored in the paint 66-34. You know, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris....yeah, that Sixers team. They were outscored by 32 in the paint.
The star for this game, of course, was Pelicans' star Zion Williamson who amassed 37 points (14 in the fourth quarter), 15 rebounds, and 8 assists on 54% shooting. He was two points away from tying his career-high of 39 points. He got whatever he wanted, regardless of who stood in his way. Simmons, Harris, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, it really didn't matter. Coach Doc Rivers admitted after the game that he thought they did "horribly" defending him and that they gave him "whatever angles he wanted."
The Pelicans' other star-level talent, Brandon Ingram, did not play very well but made a couple of shots down the stretch to help put the game away. He wound up with 17 points and 8 rebounds but shot only 5/21. Despite him struggling mightily with his shot, they still were able to walk away with the win.
Quite frankly, the Sixers entire starting lineup played poorly tonight. Joel Embiid ended with 14 points on 5/16 shooting. Steven Adams has given him some troubles in the past, and that trend continued tonight, as he settled for too many jumpers. Ben Simmons finished with just 10 points on 3/6 shooting, and his turnover issues continued tonight as well. You can't entirely pin Zion's monstrous game on him, as he's a tough cover for anyone, but this performance was certainly not up to how he's capable of playing on that end.
Tobias Harris was cooking late in the game and finished with 23 points and 7 rebounds, but for three and a half quarters the offense was simply not there. Seth Curry went scoreless and wasn't even on the floor down the stretch. Furkan Korkmaz was one of the few bright spots this game, and was a solid contributor off the bench, hitting 4 threes to account for all 12 of his points in 17 minutes of action.
The Sixers will drop the first of their two-game season series against New Orleans with this win, which will drop them to 35-17, and one game back of the Brooklyn Nets for first place in the eastern conference. The Pelicans will improve to 23-29. The Sixers will look to right the ship on Saturday in their next matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are in the middle of a 5-game losing streak.