The Philadelphia 76ers already faced a daunting task against the Denver Nuggets and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic on Monday night. But with injuries to both Joel Embiid and James Harden keeping the stars off the floor, the challenge became nearly impossible.
Unfortunately, Maxey’s sizzle ran out as the clock struck halftime; he was limited to just four points for the rest of the game.
Afterward, Nuggets coach Mike Malone praised Maxey’s game and explained how he coached up his guys to play better defensively.
“Yeah, it was big,” Malone told reporters after the game, per the Nuggets’ official YouTube channel. “I mean he had 25 points in the first half. Only four in the second, and we knew without James and Joel playing that he and Tobias (Harris) especially would be really aggressive. And as you mentioned, I think he had 20 in the second quarter alone and that was my challenge to our guys. We gave up 39 points in that second quarter and I said, ‘how are they scoring?’ It was just one-on-one, everybody just taking turns going one-on-one and scoring way too easy.”
Malone was also proud of his team’s defensive effort in the second half against Maxey.
“He’s a hell of a young talent. He’s been playing at a very high level for them, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he produces. But I thought second half our guys took the challenge of guarding him and doing a much better job.”
With the Sixers trailing by 14 entering the fourth quarter, most of Philadelphia’s starters were held off the floor at the game’s end.
Doc Rivers Defends Tyrese Maxey Decision Against Nuggets
That includes Maxey, who saw just four minutes of action in the fourth quarter against Denver.
But then those benchwarmers put on a show, pulling Philadelphia back into the game. But rather than put the starters back in to seal the deal, Rivers kept Maxey & Co. sidelined, a decision he defended after the game.
“There was never a thought,” Rivers told reporters after the game, per Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated. “That group got us back into it, honestly. You know, that’s how you get injuries. You put a guy in, think he’s turned it off, and you bring them in, and something happens. We were happy with the way it turned out, obviously. You know, it’s just the turnovers on that one stretch, beginning of the third, that’s when you’re undermanned, you just can’t give a good team a gap. You know, and that basically was a difference in the game.”
Doc Rivers Calls Out Furkan Korkmaz’ Recent 76ers Play
It’s not the first time recently that Rivers has gone to the Sixers’ bench. Against the Warriors last week, Korkmaz got some run, managing six points in seven minutes for Philadelphia.
After the game, Rivers praised Korkmaz’s effort.
“He was good,” Rivers told reporters, per the Jump View YouTube channel. “Just the one thing he always has, he has a high basketball IQ, and he made great cuts. He actually created a 3 the play before that with this cut. He didn’t get the shot, but it led to a 3, and then the next time, they bit, and went out to the 3-ball, and he cut and got a layup so I thought he was very comfortable.”
It’s been a rocky season for the Sixers veteran, who requested (and was denied) a trade ahead of last month’s deadline.