Sometimes, when high-priced players get benched, things can get ugly. Al Horford doesn’t like unpleasant situations and his actions spoke volumes.
Horford, who came to Philadelphia from Boston to win a championship, was benched on Tuesday night for the first time since 2007 and saw his 824-game starting streak end in an instant. The 13-year veteran was replaced by Furkan Korkmaz as the Sixers rolled out a starting five of Korkmaz, Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
Horford knew about the benching prior to the game and took it in stride. He has previously admitted that it’s been a struggle for him to get integrated into the Sixers’ system. Horford seems destined for a bench role for the rest of the year.
Horford scored nine points and pulled down six rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench. More importantly, the Sixers beat the Clippers 110-103 in South Philadelphia. If the 33-year-old truly wants his title drought to end, he would be wise to embrace the move. After the game, he seemed at peace with it.
“I just accepted it,” Horford said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Paul Hudrick. “Obviously not the position that I saw myself in this situation, but it was what was best for the team.”
Brett Brown Paints Picture of Unselfish Player
Brett Brown was the one who had to deliver the painful benching news to Al Horford. The Sixers coach hasn’t confirmed if the move was temporary or permanent but the big man took it like the classy professional he is. Horford didn’t fight back or complain about it.
“All class,” Brown told reporters, via CBS Sports. “I said ‘Right now, this starting group has been struggling, you’ve done nothing wrong.’ I keep myself up late at night trying to find ways to better coach it and fix it and let it co-exist and to date, after 50-whatever games, we’ve struggled a little bit. He just is all class. He’s a great teammate. He understood.”
Teammate Ben Simmons echoed those sentiments while applauding Horford’s character.
“He’s a true pro,” Simmons added. “I respect him a lot. He’s going to be big for this team. It’s going to show.”
All-Star Break Comes at Good Time for Sixers
The Sixers got some home-cooking on Tuesday versus Los Angeles — too much “home-court cooking” for one particular Clippers player — and now get a few days off to reset their mental clocks.
Philadelphia enters the All-Star break with a 34-21 record, good for fifth-place in the Eastern Conference. They won’t play another game until Feb. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center where they are 25-2.
“We do love playing at home,” head coach Brett Brown said of winning at home, via ESPN. “We love playing in front of our crowd and we feel a responsibility to perform in front of that crowd.”
Speaking of that famous “home-court cooking,” the stuff that gave Paul George agita. Well, George has been fined $35,000 for his public criticism of the officiating in the Sixers-Clippers game. He’s been a multiple offender in that department. Too bad.