Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 100-82 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center.
— The Sixers starting lineup looked NBA playoffs ready. With their four best players – Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, JJ Redick and Dario Saric – producing, the Sixers looked like a squad that made the right decision by not giving up a future asset for a player with an expiring contract at the trade deadline.
— The only person holding Simmons back Friday night was Sixers coach Brett Brown. The rookie point guard had 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists before exiting the game for good with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter. Brown was aware that he was one rebound and two assists shy of his sixth triple double, but didn’t want to risk injury.
— Amir Johnson needs to look for his shot. The Sixers backup center didn’t attempt a field goal in 18 minutes, 8 seconds of action. Setting picks and bringing energy is good. However, the Sixers need a full contribution from him during this playoff race.
— Johnson isn’t alone. The Sixers need better production from their entire bench, especially Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. He played well for a few games when the shooting guard was in the starting lineup. But he has mostly struggled once returning a reserve role. On Friday, he had six points on 2-for-12 shooting (2 of 7 on threes) in 20:27. If he doesn’t improve, the Sixers must decide if he needs a smaller role.
– It didn’t hurt them this game, but the Sixers need to do a better job of getting to the foul line. They only attempted nine free throws, making eight. Simmons and Saric both went 4-for-4 and Justin Anderson missed his lone attempt.
“Best” and “worst” awards
— Best performance: It would have been insane to not give this to Embiid. The center finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds, two steals, one block and three turnovers in 23:53 of action. Embiid made his first six shot attempts en route to shooting 11-for-18.
— Worst performance: I had to give this to Luwawu-Cabarrot. His shooting was off, big time and he tied Trevor Booker for a team-worst minus 14.
— Best defensive performance: This goes to Simmons, who finished a game-high three steals while using his length to disrupt what the Pelicans were doing.
— Worst statistic: This goes to the Pelicans starting guards Jrue Holiday (3-for-11) and E’Twaun Moore (2-for-7) combining to shoot 5-for-18 from the field.
— Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers hitting 8 of 14 three-pointers (57.1 percent) in first half.
— Worst of the worst: This goes to the Sixers being outscored 30-16 and shooting just 26.1 percent in the fourth quarter. With the game secured, Brown went to his bench. Let’s just say it was underwhelming.