By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Detroit 113, Philadelphia 96 – Box Score
The biggest news of the day for Philadelphia 76ers fans came mid-afternoon Monday with the report that the Sixers and New Orleans Pelicans were in advanced talks about a deal sending Jahlil Okafor to the Big Easy in exchange for a protected 2018 first-round pick and Alexis Ajinca. With those rumors firmly in everyone’s minds throughout the evening, Okafor took the court and put forth one of the team’s better performances against the Pistons. Unfortunately for the Sixers, that wasn’t saying much.
In a throwback to lethargic blowouts of old, the Sixers were fairly terrible from top to bottom Monday night. It certainly didn’t help that they shot just 5-28 from behind the arc. Ersan Ilyasova finished 1-8 from the floor, and Robert Covington was rusty in his return to the court following a hand injury, making only 2 of his 10 field goal attempts. To his credit, Covington was his usual defensive stalwart self, playing strong perimeter defense and collecting 3 steals.
Meanwhile, Okafor showed off the offensive game which the New Orleans brass envisions might make for a good complement to Anthony Davis. He was hot from the field early on and ended the evening with 16 points on 7-11 shooting. If you haven’t watched Okafor closely over a year and half, I suppose it’s easy to see an impressive highlight like this and get sucked in by his potential:
Of course, Okafor also gave his usual disinterested effort on the glass; Jah collected only 4 rebounds in 26 minutes. Meanwhile, the Pistons grabbed 19 offensive boards, led by Andre Drummond who ended the game with 16 points and 17 rebounds. The absence of any rim protection for the majority of the contest made it esay for a balanced Detroit attack that saw 7 Pistons reach double figures. Nerlens Noel wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but he did grab 5 boards in only 17 minutes and was merely a -1 plus/minus. But yeah, 16 points for Okafor! Strike now while you can, Pelicans!
After a 0-4 road trip, the Sixers will finally be back home Wednesday night against the Spurs. Maybe Joel Embiid will be back on the court and maybe Jahlil Okafor will be in a new uniform. Until at least one of those things happen, I fear we may be looking at more of the same substandard play from our 76ers.