Tobias Harris, Sixers Dominate Spurs in Ben Simmons’ Return
As one All-Star left the lineup another returned Sunday night, but it was an All-Star snub that stole the show.
Without Joel Embiid (left knee bone bruise), Ben Simmons shook off early rust and Tobias Harris dominated throughout as the Sixers crushed the Spurs, 134-99, in front of over 3,000 fans at the Wells Fargo Center. Sunday’s game marked the first time the team had played in front of a home crowd this season.
The win improves the Sixers to 27-12 and a full game ahead of the Nets for the top spot in the East.
Former Spur Danny Green got the Sixers off to a fast start, hitting 3 of his first 4 threes and scoring 11 first-quarter points. Led by the energetic Dwight Howard, the Sixers’ bench delivered another solid performance.
Harris continued to make opposing coaches look bad for not making him an All-Star selection. He posted 10 points, six rebounds and six assists in the first half. Harris has been aggressive going to the basket and flashing more of his ability as a playmaker in the pick-and-roll.
Rust seemed to be a factor for Simmons early as the All-Star was held scoreless in the first quarter. In the second, he began looking for his shot more, taking advantage of his size matchup against San Antonio’s smaller guards. He scored all nine of his first-half points in the period. He also added seven assists and four rebounds.
The Sixers held a 60-52 advantage at the half. Their ball movement had a lot to do with it as they had 20 assists on 27 made field goals. There’s been a noticeable difference in the team’s help defense as well.
Guards Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV kept the Spurs in the game. That duo combined to score 28 points on 9 of 16 from the field.
In the third quarter, Harris picked up where he left, Seth Curry started heating up, and the rout was on. Harris poured in 13 of his 23 points in the period. If the game didn’t get out of hand, Harris had a chance at a triple-double as he added nine rebounds and seven assists. He was a ludicrous plus-36 on the night.
Curry scored 10 of his 21 points in the third. The duo of Curry and Green combined for 37 points and hit 7 of 13 from beyond the arc. When they’re shooting at this level, the Sixers are extremely difficult to beat.
Overall, the Sixers outscored the Spurs 46-21 in the third. Through three quarters, the Sixers shot over 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. They also crushed San Antonio on the glass, outrebounding the Spurs, 61-42.
In his first game since March 3, Simmons was able to ease into things, playing just 26 minutes. He had 14 points (6 of 9), nine assists and four rebounds. Furkan Korkmaz (16) and Matisse Thybulle (10) both finished in double figures off the bench. Fresh off their impressive run with the Blue Coats, Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed both got minutes in garbage time.
The Sixers will look for their sixth straight win when they host All-Star Julius Randle and the surprising Knicks Tuesday night.