Butler, 76ers rally without Embiid, surprise Pistons
DETROIT >> The Philadelphia 76ers gave their standout center a night off, fell behind by 15 points on the road — and then came back to beat the Detroit Pistons anyway.
“This was our best win of the year under those circumstances,” coach Brett Brown said.
Jimmy Butler scored 38 points, and the 76ers overcame Joel Embiid’s absence Friday night, rallying from a sizable third-quarter deficit to beat the Pistons 117-111. Blake Griffin had 31 points and 12 rebounds for Detroit, but the Pistons squandered their 15-point third-quarter lead, as well as a sixpoint advantage in the fourth.
The 76ers rested Embiid, who missed his first game of the season, but Detroit couldn’t take advantage of the big man’s absence. Butler, who also scored 38 points in a loss at Toronto on Wednesday night, had 26 in the second half Friday, but it was Philadelphia’s fourth-quarter defense that stood out.
Detroit shot 9 of 26 from the field in the fourth. The Pistons attempted 33 free throws in the first three quarters, but they took only four in the final period as Philadelphia defended the rim impressively.
“Defense is always going to win games,” Butler said. “Especially late in the year, which is what we want to end up playing.”
The Pistons led 71-56 in the third before Philadelphia went on a 22-5 run to take the lead. Detroit was up 98-92 in the fourth, but the 76ers went on a 16-2 tear to take control.
The Pistons were up 100-97 when Detroit coach Dwane Casey received a technical foul arguing a foul call. JJ Redick made the free throw, and then added a 3-pointer to put Philadelphia ahead to stay. The 76ers then ran off another seven points in a row.
Griffin received a technical of his own in the last couple minutes of the game.
Philadelphia had 30 points off 18 Detroit turnovers.
“I like our guys’ effort. I like our guys’ fight,” Casey said. “... but you have to take care of the ball. If you turn the ball over against any team in the NBA, you’re not going to survive very long.”
Mike Muscala scored 18 points for Philadelphia and played key minutes after Amir Johnson fouled out. Muscala had three of the 76ers’ 12 blocks.
“I thought defensively, at the end of the game, those last four or five minutes, I thought he was excellent,” Brown said. “We needed it all and his versatility, where he can take Drummond away from the basket and make those perimeter shots.”
76ERS >> Redick and Ben Simmons had 18 points apiece.
76ERS >> Host Detroit on Monday
Detroit’s Blake Griffin (23) is fouled by the Sixers’ Mike Muscala (31) as Landry Shamet (1) reaches in Friday.