Pistons beat reporter Rod Beard talks about the 36-point loss against the 76ers on Friday. Rod Beard
Philadelphia — There was no movie-inspired comeback for the Pistons on Friday.
Not this time. In the City of Brotherly Love, there was no Rocky, no Apollo Creed, no super villain to take down.
This was the exact opposite of any of the Philadelphia-set “Rocky” movies. The 76ers played the role of Ivan Drago, pummeling the Pistons to the ropes in the first quarter — and continuing to near-submission by halftime.
The Sixers held the Pistons to a season-low 16 points in the first quarter and cruised to 114-78 victory on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center. It’s the Pistons’ second straight loss and third in the last four games, with a back-to-back looming against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena.
“That was total domination, from start to finish. We didn’t have a good two-minute stretch there,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You can’t dwell on it; you have a game tomorrow so you have no chance to dwell on it.”
Andre Drummond, who missed Wednesday’s game in Miami because of bruised ribs, returned to the lineup for another showdown with Sixers big man Joel Embiid and had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Tobias Harris added 14 points for the Pistons (20-17) but there was no room for a slugfest in the second half, just a rout.
“We’ve (come back) a lot this year and we’re capable of doing it. They just got rolling and once they hit us in the mouth, we never swung back,” said Ish Smith, who had 11 points. “Shots went in and out and weren’t falling.”
The Pistons shot just 38 percent from the field (30-of-79) while the Sixers were at 49 percent (44-of-90).
After an initial 15-2 onslaught to start the game, there was little doubt about the outcome. Ben Simmons (19 points, four rebounds and nine assists) answered the bell for the Sixers (19-19), scoring eight in the first flurry of four-plus minutes.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy on the 114-78 loss in Philadelphia. Rod Beard
Embiid chipped in 23 points and nine rebounds, helping the Sixers win the season series, taking all three meetings so far. The final meeting is April 4 in Detroit.
After the opening run, the Sixers continued to pile it on, with a jumper and 3-pointer from J.J. Redick (21 points) capping a 7-0 run in the final minutes of the period. Embiid’s three-point play with five seconds left made it a 32-15 margin at the end of the first quarter.
All five Sixers starters scored in double figures, with 11 points each from Robert Covington and Dario Saric. All told, the Sixers starters shot 57 percent (32-of-56) from the field and 47 percent (9-of-19) on 3-pointers and accounted for 85 points — more than the Pistons’ total — and they didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
The Sixers also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Pistons, 55-34.
“There was no defensive resistance and we didn’t rebound at all,” Van Gundy said. “We can’t rebound with this team and we haven’t been able to keep them off the glass; they destroy us on the glass.”
Drummond, who was limited by the rib issue, said he likely will play Saturday. In the second quarter, he took a collision to the ribs, dropped to the court and was slow to get up. Once he did, he grabbed at his ribs and winced.
“He got hit the one time. Other than that, he didn’t say anything or make any excuses,” Van Gundy said. “I’m sure he wasn’t really comfortable and the hit obviously bothered him.”
Pistons center Andre Drummond talks about the 114-78 loss in Philadelphia on Friday. Rod Beard
Here are more observations from the lopsided loss to the Sixers:
* The Pistons had been alternating their starters based on the opponent. In this case, it was Reggie Bullock, starting out against Simmons, who is 6-foot-10. It didn’t work out very well, as Simmons got into an early groove and sparked the early run, and continued with four more points in the second period.
* Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) was doubtful but went through pregame warm-ups and tried to go. In the previous meetings, Johnson guarded Simmons, but without that option, they chose Bullock. Johnson has missed the last three games and his status still is day-to-day as he works with team training staff.
* Boban Marjanovic had a few possessions guarding Embiid and did a decent job of not giving Embiid easy shots. Marjanovic wasn’t as big a force on the offensive end and played just seven minutes, and finished with two points and two rebounds.
* After giving up a season-high 17 3-pointers against the Heat, the Pistons followed up with another dismal effort, allowing the Sixers to hit 14 shots from beyond the arc. Redick, Covington and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (13 points) hit three each.