PHILADELPHIA–Joel Embiid was the one who knocked down a tough fadeaway jumper with 1.1 seconds left to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to a 120-119 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Friday night, but they also had to buckle down and compete on defense.
The Blazers came out firing as they shot 61.9% from the floor and 11-for-19 from deep in the first half to build a 71-56 halftime lead. Portland was playing terrific basketball and they were getting terrific play out of Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, and Damian Lillard in order to build the lead.
In the second half, the Sixers held the Blazers to 42.1% shooting and they were 4-for-17 from deep. That allowed Philadelphia to work its way back into this one and set up Embiid’s heroics.
“We woke up,” said Tyrese Maxey. “I think we woke up. We had two days off. That’s good rest, but sometimes you come out rusty. We switched some things up defensively. We put the big fella on the guard. We had Tuck (PJ) on, I think, their center. So we can trap Dame and trap Simons and that kind of was successful for us.”
In the fourth quarter, specifically, the Sixers held the Blazers to 38.9% shooting, 1-for-6 from deep, and forced three turnovers. Philadelphia was stifling down the stretch.
“Defense,” added James Harden. “We got some stops. It felt like they did everything in the first quarter, first half. We settled into the game and we got stops when we needed to. Not the prettiest win, but we’ll take it.”
Maxey, especially, along with De’Anthony Melton was huge on the defensive end. Normally, Maxey isn’t a guy who makes a huge impact on defense, but his presence was felt on Friday.
“Huge, huge,” Harden added. “Tyrese, De’Anthony, we need efforts like that. They got two of the best guards in this league in Simons and Dame. I think we did a really good job. Especially, late in that fourth quarter.”
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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire