NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 27: Doc Rivers head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 2022 in New York City. Philadelphia 76ers won 125-109.

By Dylan MacKinnon

The Pistons are one of the worst teams in the NBA. But they beat the Sixers 102-94. Most of the game was ugly. But it was late in the 4th quarter that the Pistons took the lead, and never looked back. They went on a 23-4 run at one point on their way to an 8pt win.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first quarter. The Sixers shot just 40% as a team, while the Pistons shot 39%. Embiid led the Sixers with 11 pts in the quarter, going a perfect 5-5 from the line, but shooting 3 for 7 from the field. Maxey, who finished the quarter with 6pts, was the only other Sixer to score more than twice.

The Sixers’ shooting didn’t improve much in the second quarter, but the Pistons did. By halftime, the Pistons FG% was over 50%, while the Sixers were stuck at around 42%. Also helping the Pistons was their 21 pts off the bench, compared to 0 from the Sixers. Furkan Korkmaz, Deandre Jordan, Georges Niang, Danny Green, and Shake Milton combined to play 32 minutes in the first half. They didn’t score a single point. In all that time they managed to go 0-5 from the field, gather 1 rebound, get 2 steals, 1 blk, and 3 personal fouls.

But the Sixers still led at the half, 54-50. That was thanks in large part to 18 pts from Embiid. The Sixers may have shot poorly from the field to start the game, but that was not the case from the line. They got to the line 20 times and missed only twice. Embiid alone was 10-11 from the FT line. Harden got to the line 7 times and hit 6 of them. Maxey was 2-2 from the FT line.

The 3rd quarter was all Embiid. He scored 15 in the quarter and gathered 6 rebounds. He had his way with a Pistons defense that had no answer. All they could do was either foul or give him easy baskets. Embiid earned 16 trips to the line by the end of the 3rd. But even with Embiid’s dominance, the Pistons kept it close. By the end of the 3rd, the Sixers held only a 6pt lead. They finally got their first pts off the bench of the night, 32 minutes into the game, when Milton hit a 3.

In the fourth quarter, it all fell apart. Harden made a layup to put the Sixers up 6 with 7:43 to go. Just two minutes later the Pistons took the lead on an Isaiah Livers 3pter. 30 seconds later it became a 6pt lead off a Saddiq Bey 3pter. Their lead got as high as 13 pts. In the end, it was an 8pt victory for the 20 win Pistons. Pistons made 5 of 10 3s in the 4th. The Sixers were outscored 29-14 in the final quarter.

The Starters turned a 6pt lead into an 8pt loss with 7 minutes left to go. Embiid had 37 pts, but also 7 turnovers. Harden and Harris both scored only 4pts in the second half. Maxey scored only 5 in the second half. They got no help from the bench, who scored just 8 pts on the night in 51 minutes. You see people talk about full team wins. Well, this was a full team loss. From Doc Rivers to Joel Embiid, to the bench players. It was a team effort in dropping a game to one of the worst teams in the NBA.

The Sixers are now 46-30. For now, they are the 4th seed and are 2.5 games behind the Heat for the 1 seed. Additionally, they are a .5 game back from the Celtics, and 1.5 behind the Bucks, though that could change with them trailing late to the Nets.