J.J. Redick scored 25 points on a nearly flawless night from the field, and the 76ers extended their winning streak to 12 games, defeating the Detroit Pistons on the road Wednesday night 115-108.
Redick found his stroke early in the first quarter while all other 76ers struggled from the field, as the sharpshooter scored the first five Philadelphia points, keeping the 76ers within two points in the opening minutes. The veteran from Duke finished the first quarter with 13 of his game-high 25 points, knocking down five of six shots from the field in the first.
76ers’ Head Coach Brett Brown spoke of Redick’s play after the game, likening him to none he’s coached before.
“He has a ridiculous level of energy and professionalism. Combine those two, and his preparation, and he sure is, for me, among my all-time favorites, and a guy that has my respect,” Brown said.
Midway through the first quarter, the workload shifted from Redick’s shoulders to Ben Simmons, who poured in six consecutive Philadelphia points to tie the game at 14. Simmons finished the first quarter with eight of his game 16 points.
Richaun Holmes found his way into the first quarter’s action as well for the 76ers, grabbing five straight Philadelphia points to give the 76ers their first lead, 19-17. Holmes finished with 11 points off the bench, missing just once from the field.
While the 76ers became more efficient as the first quarter progressed, so too did the Pistons. Detroit and Philadelphia matched shot for shot as the first 12 minutes came to a close. The two teams connected on 11 consecutive attempts from the field before former 76er Ish Smith missed a deep three. As a team, the 76ers finished the quarter knocking down 10 of their final 13 shots, and used a 31-17 run to close out the quarter ahead 36-28.
After scoring the final nine points of the first quarter, the 76ers jumped out to grab the first three points of the second, taking a 12-0 run to claim a double digit lead for the first time in the contest. An 8-2 second quarter run propelled the 76ers to a greater lead, 44-30, within the first three minutes of the quarter.
Defensively, the 76ers were stout in the second frame, holding Detroit to just nine points in the first six minutes of the quarter. Philadelphia also forced its tenth turnover of the evening midway through the period, as the Pistons connected just four times in nearly seven minutes.The 76ers capitalized on those forced turnovers, producing 22 first half points off them.
Anthony Toliver ended that dry spell for the Pistons, knocking down one of his seven three point attempts to trim the lead to 11. Toliver led all Piston scorers with 25 points, missing just once from beyond the arc and twice on the evening.
Where J.J. Redick was productive in the first quarter, he was nearly invisible in the second. He failed to find the scoreboard in the second quarter of play, instead, giving way to Ben Simmons to finish the half strong, going 6-8 from the field in the first 24 minutes of play.
Stanley Johnson knocked down a buzzer beater three for the Pistons to close the gap on an otherwise tremendously successful first half. The 76ers took a 16 point lead, 65-49, into the halftime locker room.
After being held off the scoreboard in the second quarter, J.J. Redick opened the scoring in the third quarter for the 76ers with a quick bucket. He would finish the quarter with an additional three points.
The 76ers stretched their lead to 19 points midway through the third quarter, 79-60, but the Pistons began to fight back toward the end of the period. Detroit used a 7-2 run near the end of the third to close the gap to 14, 81-67, as Stanley Johnson came alive, picking up six consecutive Detroit points, He finished the game with 19 points on 7-14 shooting.
Despite the quick run, the 76ers still held a 17 point lead, 88-71, heading into the final quarter of play.
While the 76ers had a large fourth quarter lead, the Detroit Pistons would not go down without a fight, as their playoff hopes were on the line Wednesday night. Midway through the fourth quarter, Ish Smith, who was nonexistent in the first 36 minutes of the contest, came alive, grabbing nine consecutive Pistons’ points, single-handedly helping Detroit cut the 76ers’ lead to 11, 95-84. Smith scored 12 of his 14 points in the final frame.
Anthony Toliver would then take the reigns for the Pistons, producing eight of the team’s next ten points, as the Pistons trimmed the lead even further to ten, 105-95. Alongside Toliver, the Pistons continued to connect from beyond the arc in the fourth, hitting on their 15th and 16th triples late in the contest, as Detroit simply would not go away.
The Pistons cut the lead to just six, 113-107, but that was the closest they’d come, as the 76ers held on to close out the game, and mathematically end the Pistons season, defeating Detroit 115-108.
The win gives the 76ers a four game series sweep over the Pistons and improves the team to 48-30 on the season. The win gives the 76ers 12 in a row, the fifth longest streak this season. The 76ers are now tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were idle Wednesday night, for the three seed in the Eastern Conference. The two will meet Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center in an all-important matchup, but first, the Cavaliers will take on the Washington Wizards Thursday night at home.
The Detroit lose locks up the eight playoff teams out of the Eastern Conference this season, as the eighth seeded Milwaukee Bucks clinch the final playoff spot.
As mentioned, the 76ers and Cavaliers will battle Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m. You can catch all the action on 97.5 The Fanatic!
-By Tyler Zulli, producer and www.975thefanatic.com contributor