DETROIT (AP) — Two years ago, the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers made a blockbuster trade, with Blake Griffin coming to the Motor City in exchange for Tobias Harris.
Monday, it appeared the long-term winner of the trade has been the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harris outscored Griffin 35-8 and Ben Simmons added a triple-double as the 76ers beat the Pistons 125-109,
“We were able to get our offense rolling, score, get stops and get out in transition”, said Harris, who was traded to Philadelphia in February. “We did a good job of just attacking.”
Joel Embiid had 20 points and eight rebounds for the 76ers, who improved to 11-4 in their last 15 games. Simmons finished with 16 points, a career-high 17 assists and 13 rebounds.
“I was just sharing the ball, moving with pace and trying to tighten any gaps,” he said.
Reserve Furkan Korkmaz added a career-high 21.
“Furkan gave us some good contributions,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “We had 33 assists and 12 turnovers, which is an incredible ratio - Ben had 17 of those assists - and I especially liked our offensive rebounding.”
Andre Drummond had 27 for the Pistons, who have lost five in a row. Griffin, who had missed the previous two games with knee soreness, scored eight points on 2-for-14 shooting.
“I’ve got no excuse,” said Griffin, who has also been dealing with flu-like symptoms. “I’ve just got to be better. I’m used to contributing more and I just haven’t been able to do that.”
The Pistons rebounded a season-low 59% of Philadelphia’s missed shots. Detroit’s three lowest defensive-rebound percentages of the season, all under 70%, have come in the last three games.
“We’ve been looking at it, believe me,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Some of it is just boxing out, but a lot of it is guys coming in from the corners. It’s a little bit of everything. Guys are shooting in and we don’t have vision of them, and when Andre helps on someone, we have to crack down on his man.”
Korkmaz had 10 points in the third period to help the Sixers build a 10-point lead, but Derrick Rose’s layup made it 94-86 going into the fourth.
Philadelphia forced three turnovers in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and expanded their lead to 103-92. After that, its dominant rebounding kept the Pistons from getting back into the game.
Drummond sat out the first 8:42 of the game after missing shootaround Monday morning. It was the first time he had come off the bench since his rookie season.
“That’s a team rule,” Casey said. “We might be getting our butts kicked on the floor, but we’re going to have discipline.”
The Sixers led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Svi Mykhailiuk and Markieff Morris combined for 19 points to keep Detroit within 60-52.
Late in the half, Harris threw a misplaced lob to Simmons, who was able to reach back and make a reverse layup. On the next possession, the pair flipped roles, with Harris guiding a Simmons alley-oop into the basket.
“He had a small defender, and I know he can make spectacular plays, so I just threw the ball in the air,” Harris said. “He made a crazy layup and the next time he threw me one like I have athleticism like he does. I managed to get it in, so that was cool.”
Tim Frazier scored seven points in the first four minutes of the third, helping the Pistons tie the game at 65, but the 48-30 rebounding deficit was too much for Detroit to overcome.
“I think a lot of the problem is coming from transition defense,” Griffin said. “We’re not getting matched up, so we’re all trying to pick up someone we aren’t used to guarding from a position we’re not used to playing.”
76ers: The Sixers have beaten the Pistons five straight times and are 5-0 at Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons: Griffin, Christian Wood and Rose all played despite knee issues, but Bruce Brown (calf) and Luke Kennard (knee) missed the game.
STRUGGLES AT HOME
The Pistons have lost five straight at home, matching their longest streak since moving to Little Caesars Arena in 2017.
LINGERING BAD FEELINGS
Griffin and Harris had to be separated with 5:21 to play. Both players were issued technicals, just as Simmons and Wood had been after a third-quarter disagreement.
BEST IN 51 YEARS
Simmons became the first 76er to have at least 16 points, 17 assists and 13 rebounds since Wilt Chamberlain did it twice in 1968.
76ers: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Christmas Day.
Pistons: Host the Washington Wizards on Thursday.