Dame Lillard Erupts for 51 as Sixers Fall Short to Blazers
The Sixers faced off against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night. Despite going down big early, the Sixers found a way to rally and take the Blazers down to the tire. Sadly, the Sixers would fall just short and would lose the game by a final score of 124-121.
Things did not look good for the Sixers early in this one. Lillard came out of the gates firing en route to finishing the game with 51 points. Also, Joel Embiid would play just five minutes before leaving the game after suffering an ankle injury.
The Blazers would break out to a lead that got as 17 at one point, it looked like it was going to be a very bad night for the Sixers. Without their two All-Stars, the Sixers needed someone to step up, and Josh Richardson would do just that.
Richardson did it all for the Sixers on offense in this one. He went blow for blow with Lillard late and would finish the game with 34 points and picked up six assists to go with it. Richardson has had some rough shooting nights of late but came alive against the Blazers. He finished with just under half of the Sixers' made threes for the game, knocking down six of ten shots from beyond the arc.
Alec Burks came alive for the Sixers against the Magic and would stay hot against the Blazers. He continues to be a spark for the Sixers off the bench, scoring 20 points in 23 minutes of action. Burks' boost in time on the floor continues to pay dividends and he has become a lethal scorer for the Sixers' second unit.
Tobias Harris and Al Horford also played their part in the Sixers surge to get back into the game. Horford finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He also played solid defense around the rim in place of Embiid and knocked down three shots from deep on four attempts. Harris would finish the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Losing Ben Simmons' defensive abilities on the perimeter on this one, but Matisse Thybulle is doing his best to fill in those shoes. Thybulle finished with another multi-steal game and would rotate on all the Blazers' threats in the guts of the game. His energy and activity on defense were big for the Sixers down the stretch.
Although moral victories don't count for anything in the standings, the Sixers should hang their heads high after this contest. Being without your top two players and being able to storm a comeback the way they did was very impressive. Not to mention it took a 51 point performance from the opposing team's best player to put them away.
The Sixers are going to have their hands for the rest of the way. They will be off on Monday and then will have a back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday, facing off against the red hot Phoenix Suns and defending champion Toronto Raptors.
Kevin McCormick is the 76ers insider for 97.3 ESPN and 76ers editor for Sportstalkphilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMcC973.