Tyrese Maxey torched the Toronto Raptors for a career-best 44 points on Friday to help the Philadelphia 76ers earn a victory.
As Maxey shoots for an encore when the 76ers visit the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, the formula for success seems clear: Get strong ball movement and good buy-in on defense and go from there.
“It was getting good looks. Like me, myself, and the team included,” Maxey said regarding the key on Friday. “We got to the paint, sprayed off for threes, got in transition, and once you get stops, the game becomes way easier for not just myself, for all of us, and because we were getting to the paint and driving and kicking, creating, generating offense for everybody.”
Philadelphia, which split its two-game trip to Toronto to open a four-game road swing, needed the jolt.
The 76ers were without star Joel Embiid (right knee soreness), last year’s NBA scoring champion who has averaged 27.6 points and 10 rebounds through his first five games.
De’Anthony Melton and Tobias Harris chipped in 13 points apiece, while James Harden added 11 on a night when Philadelphia never trailed.
“I just wanted to win so bad. I’m just so serious,” Maxey said. “I just know how good we can be. I know how talented we are, but we got to match our talent with the energy that we play with and defensive tenacity. …
“I think tonight, we knew that it was gonna be extremely hard without Joel, so that made guys step up and made guys do things that they normally don’t do.”
Chicago is coming off a 129-124 road loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, a game that featured a notable individual milestone if not overall team success.
Bulls leading scorer DeMar DeRozan had 33 points against his former team to become the 50th player in league history to reach 20,000 points for his career. He enjoyed an embrace with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after securing his place in history.
“To be honest with you, it’s beyond surreal,” DeRozan said. “Just being mentioned in scoring records, top 50 all time, be able to get the respect from one of the greatest coaches of all time, have an honor to play here and these fans embrace me the way they did my three years, it’s just crazy how things come full circle.
“It didn’t feel real when it happened. I wish we would have gotten the win, but just to have that type of moment was definitely unforgettable.”
Chicago guard Zach LaVine (injury management) missed the game as the team assesses him following offseason surgery on his left knee.
The Bulls fell into an early 14-point hole but rallied and held the lead for large portions of the second, third and fourth quarters before falling short down the stretch.
“It was just kind of a strange game,” DeRozan said. “We’re still working through things on the defensive end, but this one was on us.”
The Bulls are seeking to end an 11-game losing streak against the 76ers, whose recent dominance in the series includes five straight wins in Chicago.
–Field Level Media