By Tom Brennan
This is what the Sixers reality is without Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
And the Blazers Damian Lillard was more than a reality TV star..
The All-Star point guard scored 51 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Sixers 124-121.
The 76ers lost much more than the game. All-Star center Embiid left in the first quarter with what the team called a left ankle injury, and he did not return. He contested a shot, then backed up and stepped awkwardly into the stanchion. He had been averaging 30 points per game since the restart.
76ers coach Brett Brown wouldn’t say whether Embiid would miss time.
“I’m going to learn more physically,” Brown said. “I don’t know enough to comment on it.”
It was more bad injury news for the 76ers. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons is out indefinitely with an injured left knee.
Josh Richardson scored a season-high 34 points and Alec Burks added 20 for Philadelphi a. The 76ers would have moved into a tie with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a win.
Without their stars, the 76ers fell behind by 17 in the second quarter and trailed 67-58 at halftime.
The game tightened up late. Philly’s Al Horford hit a 3-pointer to trim Portland’s lead to 122-121. Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic made two free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining to put his team up three. Richardson missed a 3-pointer for Philadelphia, and the 76ers couldn’t get another shot off after a scramble for the rebound.
“I thought our guys fought,” Brown said. “I really thought the spirit of the group was fantastic. We called upon many different players that I think played with a spirit and a passion that you’re proud of.”