Anatomy of a comeback: Sixers explain how they rallied to beat Clippers

    PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers looked dead in the water. They trailed a very good and deep Los Angeles Clippers team by 20 and LA stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were in an absolute groove out on the floor.

    Leonard had 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting and George had 17 at the half as the Sixers looked like they had no idea how to stop the two of them. On top of that, Philadelphia looked sluggish on the offensive end as they were shooting just 45.8% compared to LA’s 61%. The Clippers also were 10-for-19 from deep at the half and Philadelphia was 4-for-14.

    It was a complete turnaround in the second half as the Sixers outscored LA 68-51, they shot 62.5% from the floor and the Clippers were held to 40% shooting. It ended with the Sixers winning the game 119-114 and they explained how they got it done.

    The Clippers were much more physical and they bothered the Sixers all throughout the first half. That changed after halftime as Philadelphia, obviously, took control in this one.

    “We just actually started playing,” said Tobias Harris. “We were terrible. Our defense was awful. Offensively, we were slow, sluggish. Once we were actually able to get some stops, get out and run, get some momentum, get the crowd into the game, and create some energy. That was our will right there.”

    The Sixers looked like a much different team after halftime.

    “We were able to get going,” Harris added. “We just had some life to the game. We got good shots early one. We didn’t make many of them and we weren’t playing great defense. Once we were able to kind of combat that and flip that script, we were able to go with it.”

    The third quarter is when this game really began to shift. After a huge first half, Los Angeles shot just 38.1% from the floor and scored 22 points. The Sixers were able to get stops and get out in transition and play at the pace that they want to play at.

    “Just staying with it,” said James Harden. “Our defensive pressure picked up in the second half. In the first half, it felt like they were making everything. We knew how good of an offensive team they were. Honestly, the last couple games, we haven’t really played like a really elite offensive team. It was a good test for us. They caught us in that first half. In the second half, we picked up our defensive intensity, got out in transition, and made the game a lot easier for us.”

    “Just being more physical,” said Joel Embiid. “Every one of the shots, at halftime, they were shooting like being 60 or 65% from the field. There was no physicality so just pressuring them and just being more physical.”

    “As I said the other day, leads get blown all the time in this league and you just got to hang in there,” said coach Doc Rivers. “You really do. I thought we hung in there. We didn’t have much. I didn’t think we played with any pace in the first half. Zero physicality. We talked about playing in air space and every shot, we had a gap. I thought in the second half, we got up, we pressured the ball up the floor, we made catches harder, they were later in the clock. We got misses and it allowed us to play.”

    The Sixers received 11 points from Shake Milton and 11 points from Georges Niang after halftime as they both stepped up and provided some big plays. Philadelphia really needed that in order to win this one.

    “It was huge for us,” added De’Anthony Melton. “It’s something I know Shake can do. Especially, when he finds a matchup that he liked. It was like fresh produce out there so he just kept eating and kept going. So that’s what we need as a team and for him as a player.”

    This one began to show signs of the OT win over the Los Angeles Lakers to begin this homestand as the Clippers cut the deficit to three with 23.6 seconds left after Philadelphia led by nine with 1:30 left.

    This time, they were able to close it out without having to go to overtime.

    “It was way better,” said Embiid. “We worked, especially after that game, we worked on our press break offense and tonight, obviously, it was way better as far as just executing it. Getting the ball in whether it’s my hands or James’ hands and advancing the ball. I think we did a good job and that Laker game was wild. Still don’t know how we got lucky with the missed free throws, but I think we did a better job tonight.”

    Beating a hobbled Toronto Raptors team and a bad Detroit Pistons team is one thing, but to beat this Clippers team? This is a terrific win.

    Embiid: “That’s a good team right there. They got all the talent in the world from starting five to guys coming off the bench. Probably the favorites to come out of the West based on what they have and Kawhi, I’m sure he’s still on a minutes restriction, but he’s been doing it for so many years. When you got a guy like that, I mean, having played against him in the playoffs, he’s a big time, especially in the playoffs. He just turns into freaking Michael Jordan. So when you got a guy like that, you got a good chance. So for us to come back down 20 or whatever that was, it was big time for us. That just shows that we stayed together we trust each other, and we know what we have to do. We started off the game soft, especially defensively, and as soon as we turn it up, it changed the whole game.”

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