Sixers-Bulls observations, 'best' and 'worst' awards: Ben Simmons, defense, glimpse at what could be

Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 115-101 home win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

Five observations

— There are nights that are maddening when Ben Simmons doesn’t start strong, doesn’t seem aggressive, and doesn’t get to the foul line. But Wednesday was not one of those nights. Simmons did everything right. He finished with a 19-point, 17-rebound, 14-assist triple-double, and the Bulls had absolutely no answer for him. His rebounding enabled the Sixers to play at a fast pace and keep Chicago on its toes.

— The Sixers showed a glimpse of what they can be when they take better care of the ball. They had 31 assists on 42 field goals and committed just 15 turnovers, which led to only 10 points for Chicago. It’s not as if the turnover problems have been cured, but it is a sign that the Sixers can play fast and share the ball while still maintaining control.

— Joel Embiid said that he blamed himself for the Sixers’ loss Monday in Memphis and that he wanted to right the ship with a good game. He played smart against the Bulls. Embiid fed his teammates on the outside when double teams closed in on him, and when shots were falling, he kept going back to them. Then he used swift moves to score when the lanes opened up down low, finishing the night with 22 points.

The Sixers’ inactive list has continued to grow and deplete the backcourt. Jerryd Bayless, JJ Redick, T.J. McConnell, Furkan Korkmaz, and Markelle Fultz were on the injured/inactive list Wednesday. The Sixers could have had a good excuse to fall back on had they not gotten it done against Chicago. Instead, everyone stepped up, and even though guys such as James Young and Larry Drew II didn’t stand out on the box score, they provided rest for the other guys who were picking up the slack.


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— While injury, illness, or anything that would keep a player out of a game is never a good thing, there could be a silver lining for the Sixers. Guys such as Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Justin Anderson are getting more minutes, and the value of having reserve players get more playing time is high. When the regular rotation guys return, the bench will be better for it. The bench players will have a better feel for the game, and could be more efficient and productive.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

— Best performance: This was easily one of Ben Simmons’ best games, and he was absolutely the most dominant player on the court. He didn’t take his foot off the gas pedal after a strong start, recording his fifth triple-double.

— Worst performance: The Bulls’ Justin Holiday scored with just five points in 25 minutes and shot 2 for 11 from the field, including 1 for 7 from beyond the arc.

— Best defensive performance: The Sixers’ defense deserves credit here. They held the Bulls to 38.3 percent shooting, racked up seven blocks and cleaned up on the defensive boards.

— Worst statistic: Area native and member of the 2016 NCAA-champion Villanova team Ryan Arcidiacono returned to the Wells Fargo Center and played 17:53 in his fourth NBA game. He took only one shot, and it didn’t fall.

— Best statisticBen Simmons was basically on a triple-double watch from the first quarter. In the first 12 minutes, he had already racked up 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists.

— Worst of the worst:  Speaking of the Bulls’ bad shooting, they shot 29.7 percent overall from three-point territory and it wasn’t helped by their second-quarter performance of 1 for 9 from distance.