Pistons eliminated from playoffs with 115-108 loss to Sixers
DETROIT (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are rolling right along without Joel Embiid.
JJ Redick scored 25 points, and the 76ers won their 12th straight game, eliminating Detroit from playoff contention with a 115-108 victory over the Pistons on Wednesday night. Embiid missed a fourth straight game because of a concussion and orbital fracture.
“Everyone in this room has stepped up since Joel went down, and we know we’re capable of winning games without him,” guard Ben Simmons said. “We told him to get ready for the playoffs and that we’ll take care of everything else. Now we’re showing that we can do that.”
The Pistons had their five-game winning streak snapped, and their defeat clinched a postseason spot for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Eastern Conference playoff field is now set, although there’s still plenty of uncertainty over the actual matchups. Philadelphia pulled even with Cleveland for third place in the East.
Anthony Tolliver scored 25 points for the Pistons and went 7 of 8 from 3-point range. Detroit was without star forward Blake Griffin, who missed his fourth straight game because of a bruised right ankle.
Embiid had surgery last weekend to repair a broken bone around his left eye. The 76ers could certainly use him, but so far, they’ve gone right on winning. Redick scored 13 points in the first quarter Wednesday, and backup big man Richaun Holmes had back-to-back dunks to give Philadelphia an 18-17 advantage. An alley-oop to Holmes put the 76ers up 36-28 after one.
The lead reached 19 in the second quarter. Philadelphia was up 65-49 at halftime, and the margin didn’t reach single digits again until the waning moments of the fourth. Detroit did manage to snap Philadelphia’s streak of nine straight double-digit wins.
Redick finished 10 of 13 from the field and 5 of 7 from beyond the arc .
“They’ve got two of the best guys in the entire league moving without the ball, with Redick and (Marco) Belinelli,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They tore us up tonight.”
76ers: Philadelphia was without F Dario Saric (right elbow cellulitis). F Robert Covington was shaken up in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the cheek from Detroit’s Reggie Jackson. Covington was able to finish the game, however. … Belinelli scored 19 points and Simmons had 16.
Pistons: Andre Drummond had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The Pistons kept their slim postseason chances alive with this recent winning streak, and Detroit is 25-16 this season with Jackson suited up. But Jackson’s late-December ankle injury sent the Pistons into a funk they ultimately weren’t able to overcome.
“It’s tough. It was a goal of ours in September, to be able to make the playoffs,” guard Reggie Bullock said. “Things happen. Players left, players got hurt.”
Detroit cut Philadelphia’s lead to eight in the final minute, and after a turnover by Belinelli, Stanley Johnson had a 3-pointer that would have made it a five-point game. He missed.
“You always want to avoid turnovers down the stretch, but you have to give the Pistons credit. We’re on the road on a back-to-back, and we’re trying to end their shot at the playoffs,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “It is always going to be difficult and there’s going to come a point where you have to break their spirit to finish them off. They hit some huge 3s and forced some turnovers, and that’s the way a lead starts to evaporate, but we were able to reply with the same things.”
Moe Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson, fresh off their Final Four appearance with Michigan, were shown on the big screen at the game and drew a roar from the crowd.
76ers: Host Cleveland on Friday night.
Pistons: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.