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3 observations: Zion Williamson, Pelicans knock off listless Sixers

The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to continue their road trip with another win after starting the trip with a victory on Tuesday, but they came out flat from the jump and the team did not recover against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Zion Williamson was a problem all night long and he had 37 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists to lead the way in a 101-94 win over the Sixers down in the bayou. New Orleans also received a double-double from Wily Hernangomez and 12 points from Jaxson Hayes as well.

Tobias Harris led Philadelphia with 23 points and seven rebounds, Joel Embiid had 14 points and nine rebounds, Furkan Korkmaz had 12, and Ben Simmons had 10 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

Here are the three observations from this one:

The Pelicans are one of the worst defensive teams in the league and while the Sixers scored 50 points in the first half, it did not feel like it was easy to get. They were missing a lot of open looks, there were too many turnovers, and that allowed New Orleans to get out in transition which is an area where Philadelphia continues to struggle on defense. They had seven turnovers in the third quarter alone which allowed New Orleans to gain some separation. Then, in the fourth, they had two really bad turnovers when they had a chance late in the game. Just all night long, they were really sloppy with the basketball.

An area that really hurt the Sixers was the number of second-chance points the Pelicans were able to get. They grabbed nine offensive rebounds and they had 12 second-chance points at the half and they also scored 34 points in the paint as Williamson was having his way early and often. New Orleans scored 16 of their 26 third-quarter points in the paint as it was just too easy for them all night.

It felt like the Sixers were playing very unorganized on offense in this game. There were too many times where they would rush their shots on offense and they also failed to take advantage of some mismatches. For example, there was one instance where Hernangomez was defending Embiid and the Sixers did not take advantage of it. They instead ran a snug pick-and-roll for Simmons and it resulted in a missed shot. They need to get the ball to the big fella in that situation.

There was another instance where Harris even took a tough shot rather than find Dwight Howard for an easy look down low. There were some really bad possessions on offense in this one as they did not take advantage of playing against a bad defensive team in New Orleans. There were just too many unforced errors in this one and it really ended up costing them in the end.

After the win over the Celtics on Tuesday, coach Doc Rivers was talking about how he wanted his stars to take more free throws. Embiid only took four in the first half, which is a very low number for him, and Simmons only took three which are numbers that should really be higher. Simmons continues to drive into the paint only to look for others and while that is a huge part of his game, against a team like the Pelicans, he needs to go up and attack in a lot of those instances.

As for Embiid, maybe the knee is still bothering him. He had four free throws in the first quarter, but after that, he settled a lot against Steven Adams. Instead of attacking as he did early in the game, he was jab stepping into jump shots rather than being aggressive and the only thing that can sound logical is that the knee is maybe bothering him and forcing him to settle instead of drive. On the flip side, Adams is a pretty damn strong dude so that could play a factor.

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