It was an exciting, dramatic debut for 2014 1st round picks Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, but in the end the Sixers came up short, falling by a final score of 103-97.

Embiid dazzled on both offense and defense, particularly early on, and he provided something to get excited about for the rest of the season.

Embiid played a few more minutes than his original restriction of 20 minutes, but was he was more than productive in his first regular season NBA game. He finished with 20 points on 6-16 shooting, including one three-pointer, and seven rebounds.

The Sixers held a 24-23 lead after an exciting first quarter in which the Sixers got off to a hot start from the field. Gerald Henderson delivered the team’s first bucket of the season with authority, finishing off an impressive alley-oop pass from Sergio Rodriguez.

Speaking of Rodriguez, he impressed many people tonight as the Sixers’ starting point guard. The Rodriguez signing appears to be a good one, as he was the distributor on offense tonight, dishing out nine assists in 32 minutes.

The game was tied at 51 at halftime, with the Sixers holding their own against the team that fell to the Warriors in the Western Conference finals last season.

Nik Stauskas proved that there is still a spot on this team for him, as he played exceptionally well in his somewhat limited minutes. Stauskas played 23 minutes, scoring 13 points on 5-6 shooting with his only miss coming on his lone attempt from behind the arc.

Jahlil Okafor and Jerami Grant both played well in tonight’s game, combining for 18 points and seven rebounds, and both playing a critical role in the Sixers’ solid offensive performance.

After taking a six point lead into the final quarter, the 4th quarter struggles that have haunted this team for the past few seasons returned.

Russell Westbrook took over down the stretch and helped the Thunder take the lead late and close out the victory in tonights game. Westbrook was all over the court, falling one assist shy of a triple-double as he finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds.

Westbrook and the Thunder were playing in their first game without Kevin Durant as a member of the franchise since they drafted him back in 2007. Experts predicted a very angry Westbrook to come out and put up big numbers this season, and he did just that tonight.

Victor Oladipo struggled on offense in his first game with Oklahoma City, but came up big on defense down the stretch, including drawing a charge on Joel Embiid with less than 15 seconds to go that more or less sealed the win for the Thunder. Oladipo finished with 10 points, five rebounds and one assist in the game.

Although the Sixers didn’t get the result they were hoping for in the season opener, there were a lot of positives to take away from the game. Embiid and Okafor showing that they can be dominant forces on offense, Stauskas proving he can provide scoring off the bench, and Rodriguez looking like the first competent point guard this team has had in recent years are just a few things that should get people excited for where this team is going.

The Sixers will be back in action at home on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. against the Atlanta Hawks.

Photo: TastyPoutine (via: Wikimedia Commons)

Tyler King covers the Sixers for He can be contacted via email at or on Twitter (@t_king26).

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