PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Without Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, Portland’s “other guys” stepped in for the stars and pulled off the upset in Philly.
Gary Trent Jr scored 24 points and Enes Kanter had 17 points and 18 rebounds to lead the undermanned Trail Blazers to a 121-105 win over the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday.
Carmelo Anthony had 22 points and a Trail Blazers team with four starters missing led by as many as 29 points against the top team in the East.
“Dame is our best player, our superstar,” Kanter said. “But on both ends of the floor, the other guys did an amazing job today.”
Joel Embiid scored 37 points for the Sixers. Tobias Harris added 12 points and 11 boards.
Embiid puffed-up his All-Star game credentials in a game that otherwise lacked star power. Sixers guard Ben Simmons sat out with tightness in his left calf. Portland played without Lillard (abdominal strain) and Derrick Jones Jr (left foot sprain). Throw in four players already out with injuries – including Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) and McCollum (left foot) – and the Trail Blazers were down to nine players.
“It does change the chemistry of the game,” coach Terry Stotts said. “We’ve lost games against teams that were short-handed.”
Portland got one this time around. CJ Elleby scored 15 points for the Trail Blazers.
“It was just a different energy with the team,” Elleby said. “It was a celebration tonight.”
Sixers President Daryl Morey replied, “I am not fooled ” hours before the game to a tweet that noted all of Portland’s injuries. He had reason for concern.
With Portland trying to keep Embiid in check, Trent hit two 3s and Portland outscored the 76ers 40-19 in the third.
Portland entered 26th in the NBA in team defence, allowing 117.1 points per game. McCollum tweeted, “We might move up to 22nd in the league in defence after this outstanding performance !”
Embiid scored 31 points in the first half and might have topped 40 had he not left the game for about four minutes when he tweaked his right knee. Embiid walked straight to the locker room but returned with 90 seconds left in the quarter.
“I kind of felt it when I landed, but I ended up coming back and pushing through it,” Embiid said. “As the game kept going, I felt good. I mean, I wasn’t all the way there but I was just trying to push and make sure we get a chance.”