Joel Embiid hits and misses.
He had 11 first-quarter points and nine of them were from beyond the arc during a 114-110 loss Thursday night to the Trail Blazers in Portland.
Embiid hit two more 3s before the night was over.
There are definitely some nights (most nights) when seeing Embiid catch the ball out that far can be extremely frustrating and confusing. There are nights when he shoots 3s and it just doesn’t make any sense.
But when he’s hitting them and forcing the defense to leave the paint open because he is a threat from outside, it’s hard not to just stand back and marvel.
Embiid finished with 29 points, including going 6 of 12 from 3-point land. But Embiid was largely ineffective in the final quarter with costly turnovers and fouls, and all the hard work he had put in through the game was missing in the end.
We’re so used to seeing the Sixers fall apart in the second half, it’s surprising when they really ramp up the intensity in the third.
This time, the Sixers pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Blazers 34-20.
Midway through the third quarter, Amir Johnson came in for Embiid after the Sixers had created an 11-point lead. From that point, the Sixers extended their lead to 18 points.
The Blazers were able to pull off an 8-0 run that cut into the lead, but the Sixers had created enough of a cushion for it not to sting too much.
The thing about second-half surges is that they have to last.
Everything that the Sixers were doing to stay with the Blazers in the first half, and then pull away in the third quarter, they stopped doing in the fourth quarter.
Working to contain C.J. McCollum, playing physical, defending, taking care of the ball, making shots ... it all ended for the Sixers before the game did.
Streaky shooting has been plaguing the Sixers, but when Dario Saric, and especially J.J. Redick are hitting, it makes things so much easier for the Sixers.
Redick got it going in the third quarter after struggling to find open spots in the first half. But he lost his way again in the fourth, including a mid-range air ball while the Blazers were on a roll.
Redick finished with 19 points, but it came on 7-of-18 shooting.
By now, you can see that there was a theme to this game.
The Sixers started the night with what looked like could have been a season-low turnovers, committing just six through the first three quarters.
As the team works toward becoming a playoff team — the goal they set for themselves — cutting down on the turnovers is one of the most critical things on which they Sixers need to focus.
Then, the Sixers lost their focus and had eight turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.
Finishing the game with 14 turnovers is an improvement, but the fourth-quarter fallout was not.