LOS ANGELES — Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 109-105 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at the Staples Center.
Joel Embiid showed why he’s more effective playing in the post as opposed to being a 7-foot-2 3-point shooter. The Sixers center was unstoppable on turnaround jumpers, layups and dunks. He did shoot several outside shots, going 1 for 5 on three-pointers, but most of his 32 points came in the post. The Clippers’ inability to guard led to his attempting a game-high 16 foul shots and the fouling out of both Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan and his backup, Willie Reed.
Robert Covington keeps showing why he’s the best acquisition not named Embiid by former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. The small forward finished with a career-high 31 points. He scored seven of his team’s final nine points in a game that wasn’t decided until the final second. The undrafted player, whom the Sixers signed on Nov. 15, 2014, scored the game’s final four points at the foul line.
If there’s one criticism of Ben Simmons, it’s that he can’t shoot from outside. Well, he sure didn’t have to against the Clippers. The point guard scored 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting while attacking the basket. His first seven field goals were dunks.
His final two baskets were finger rolls.
The Sixers flip-flopped backup-center minutes between Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes the past two games. Johnson received the playing time Monday night after sitting out Saturday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. Holmes watched Monday’s game from the bench after playing Saturday.
Dario Saric usually has a tough time playing against squads with athletic power forwards. Monday night was no different. The Sixers power forward had one of his worst games of the season, finishing with 2 points on 1-for-8 shooting and missing all five of his three-point attempts. He also turned the ball over three times.
“Best” and “Worst” awards
Best performance: I gave this to Covington on a night Embiid finished with game highs in points and rebounds (16). As great as Embiid played, the Sixers would not have won that game without Covington’s late heroics. He was also extremely efficient, making 9 of 12 field goals — including 5 for 8 on three-pointers — and all eight of his foul shots. This was a great bounce-back game for Covington, who received the “worst” performance in Saturday’s loss to the Warriors.
Worst performance: This goes to Jordan. He didn’t come close to playing on his NBA All-Star level against Embiid. The 29-year-old had more turnovers (three) than points (two). Jordan made 1 of 2 shots and had five rebounds and one block in what was mostly an underwhelming performance before fouling out with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left.
Best defensive performance: Lou Williams finished with a game-high five steals. The Clippers reserve guard and former Sixer also had a team-high 31 points.
Worst statistic: This goes to the Clippers’ making just 65.6 percent (21 of 32) of their foul shots.
Best statistic: This goes to Embiid’s attempting 16 foul shots. The Sixers are usually successful when he takes a lot of foul shots. It means he’s getting the opposing center in foul trouble.
Worst of the worst: Despite the victory, this goes to the Sixers’ 20 turnovers. That was part of the reason the Clippers got back into the game. A lot of the Sixers’ turnovers were unforced.