The Philadelphia 76ers once again built a big lead. This time they held it with no drama.
Joel Embiid scored 24 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and Dario Saric had 24 points and four 3s as the Sixers rolled 100-82 over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.
"Defensively we were amazing," Embiid said. "Offensively we moved the ball, but I think it started on the defensive end."
A game-time decision with a sore ankle, Embiid hit his first six shots from the floor and scored 16 points in the first quarter, two more than the Pelicans, as the Sixers led by 18 after a quarter.
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Embiid recorded his 27th double-double of the season by halftime, with 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting and 10 rebounds. He now has a double-double in seven straight games, matching his season high.
Embiid's one block made an impact. Nikola Mirotic drove in for what looked like a layup at the first-half buzzer, but Embiid swatted it away as the horn sounded with the Sixers up 56-41.
Philadelphia then poured it on in the third, scoring the final 14 points of the quarter to outscore the uninspired Pelicans 28-11 and extend the lead to 32.
"So much of everything we did was generated through our defense," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said.
Defense allowed Philadelphia to build the lead, and ball security was the key to keeping it. The Sixers, who have made a habit of relinquishing large leads this season, had just one turnover in the third quarter. They were able to rest their starters in the fourth when the lead ballooned to 35.
"When we can guard like we guard, and we do it well most nights, and can just get a shot, as simple as that sounds, then you have a really good chance to maintain a lead," Brown said.
Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 14 points on 6-for-19 shooting. The Pelicans at times appeared apathetic but shouldn't have been fatigued. They hadn't played since Monday after Wednesday's home game against Indiana was postponed because of a leaky roof at the Smoothie King Center.
"I didn't think we started the game with the intensity level we were going to have to if we were going to play against this team," Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just offensively didn't have any kind of flow or any kind of rhythm."
Embiid wasn't sure if he would play Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
"We're going to see how the ankle feels. It was pretty painful today," said Embiid, who wasn't sure how he hurt it. "Especially when I've been allowed to play back-to-backs, I really want to push through and play."
Embiid played in back-to-back games for the first time in his career last Friday and Saturday.
Brown knew Ben Simmons was approaching a triple-double but decided it wasn't worth the risk to play his star rookie in the fourth quarter.
"It's not how I'm wired," Brown said.
Simmons finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 25 minutes.
Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in last year's NBA draft, may not play again this season as he deals with a right shoulder injury and works on his shot.
"There's always a chance that he's going to be out there soon, and there's a chance that he's not going to play this year," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday morning.
Pelicans: Signed Monday after having signed two 10-day contracts last month, point guard DeAndre Liggins made his first start of the season, taking Rajon Rondo's spot. Alvin Gentry said the hope was to lessen the workload on Jrue Holiday and allow Rondo to spark the second unit, which has struggled without injured big man DeMarcus Cousins.
The experiment didn't last long. Liggins played six minutes in the first quarter. He failed to score in 19 minutes. Gentry wasn't sure if Liggins would start Saturday against the Nets.
New Orleans has lost five of six since Cousins was lost for the season with an injured Achilles.
76ers: Philadelphia in the first quarter held New Orleans to five field goals and forced six turnovers.
E-A-G-L-E-S . EAGLES!
Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were in attendance and received loud ovations. The city held the parade Thursday to celebrate the Super Bowl champs.
Pelicans: New Orleans' next stop is New York to face the Brooklyn Nets.
76ers: Los Angeles Clippers come to town Saturday night.