PHILADELPHIA – Joel Embiid's left ring finger looked like the tip of a used drinking straw and grotesquely overlapped his little finger to the point of crossing his fingers.
"I almost threw up when I saw that," said Ben Simmons, the guard of the 76s.
Simmon's stomach soon calmed down, and so did the Sixers when Embiid needed nothing more than a short drive to the locker room and some tape. Embiid played through the unsightly injury and scored 18 points, Simmons had 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Philadelphia grabbed a four-game losing streak and struck the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-113 on Monday night.
"I'm glad he came back," said Simmons. "We needed him. He is a big part of this team. "
The 76s lost all four games on a trip that brought them down in the Eastern Conference standings and raises the question of how far this team can get in the playoffs.
They usually last in the off-season as long as a healthy embiid can absorb them. The All-Star-Center pulled out a finger in the first quarter. Embiid returned to start the second quarter, although the injury prevented him from playing with his usual force on the glass, and he lost a number of rebounds to Steven Adams.
"I felt my finger snap and I thought I had broken it," said Embiid. "They took a few X-rays and said it was nothing."
Embiid said there is a possibility that he would not play against Boston on Thursday.
"I couldn't go up with two hands," said Embiid. "There were a few times that I could have grabbed with both hands, but I just couldn't. I just kept tapping on it."
The Thunder, who had won five times in a row, ended the game within two minutes with three minutes remaining before the Sixers scored nine points in a row to end the game. Embiid's fingers looked good on a plate for Tobias Harris, and Harris buried a 3 to make it 115-106.
Adams had 24 points and 15 rebounds and Chris Paul scored 18 points.
"We came down and these guys always fight back," said Thunder coach Billy Donovan.
Josh Richardson scored 23 points for the Sixers, and Simmons shyly dropped two assists from a triple double in another solid game without a basket over 22 feet.
Simmons is an all-star and triple-double threat, but for some reason it doesn't shoot with 3-pointers. His only two career 3 games have run this season, and after winning a win over Cleveland on December 7, coach Brett Brown asked Simmons to shoot more of them.
"That's what I want," said Brown that night. "I want at least 3 points per game. He is released. His and our world will open in many ways. "
Simmons responded to Brown's decree by doubling his refusal to shoot 3's. He had a meaningless chance in a December 10 game against Denver, but otherwise he hasn't tried an honest 3.
Brown admitted that Simmons had ignored his request.
"Apparently I failed," said Brown. "It's something we all look out for, and this is one of those things that will never go away. The attention that has received this is remarkable. I think I helped fuel it up. I own it. I need it help find that, and most of all, he has to help himself. "
The Sixers need more 3-point shooting, point. In the last two defeats, they only made six and hopefully returned home to find the blow that set a franchise record of 21 threes in a Christmas Day win against Milwaukee.
“This team needs to find more 3-point opportunities. We'll do that, ”said Brown. "We definitely have to hunt 3's more than we currently are."
The 76s got this news, at least early, and they ended an efficient 13 for 26 on 3s.
Harris scored three of Philly's eight three-pointers (14 attempts) in the first half and had a 62:52 lead during the break. But they only met two in the third – and sniffed a few light glances at the basket – and had cut their 14-point lead to 90-86.