NBA highlights on Feb. 8: Philadelphia 'Big 4' defeat Denver in debut
Li Xiang

The Philadelphia 76ers with their new "Big 4", Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris playing together for the first time beat the Denver Nuggets 117-110 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Friday.

The 76ers also held during the half time break the retiring ceremony for the No. 2 Jersey of the team's legendary player Moses Malone.

76ers are intimidating, but far from perfect

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks to his teammate Jimmy Butler #23 in the game they win against the Denver Nuggets 117-110 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks to his teammate Jimmy Butler #23 in the game they win against the Denver Nuggets 117-110 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Surprisingly, J.J. Redick shot down Philadelphia's highest 34 points by making six of seven three-pointers. Butler had 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Embiid dropped a double-double of 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks yet with a low field goal rate of 23.5 percent (4/17). Harris and Simmons scored respectively 14 and 12 points.

Nikola Jokic put down a double-double of 27 points, ten rebounds and ten assists for Denver. Jamal Murray had 23 points, five rebounds, and six assists. The other four players that dropped double-digit points for the team were Will Barton (14), Malik Beasley (12), Mason Plumlee (10) and Trey Lyles (13).

Ben Simmons of the 76ers in the game against the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Ben Simmons of the 76ers in the game against the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

This was a typical game of multiple star players playing together before they learned how to adapt to each other. By putting their Big 4 in the first-lineup with Redick, the 76ers had the advantage in size, power, and athleticism. However, they were still unfamiliar with working together and thus often ended with the individual attack in the offense, which explained why Philadelphia were trailing 23-35 in assisting.

Thanks to their advantage with the first-lineup, the 76ers finished the first quarter leading by 10 points (33-23) and once expanded their lead to 50-34. However, their offense fell into standstill since then while the Nuggets launched smooth attacks under the commanding of Jokic to tie the score 56-56 before the end of the first half.

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets passes the ball in the game against the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets passes the ball in the game against the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Neither side was able to leave the other too behind in the third quarter. Redick carried Philadelphia's offense with his hot hands while Denver kept scoring via smart coordinated plays. The 76ers entered the last quarter with a one-point lead (83-82) and turned on their "star player taking over" mode.

Butler and Harris first helped the team expand the lead to four points (101-97), but the Nuggets immediately responded a 6-2 to tie the score again (103-103). Philadelphia continued to trust the Big 4 who again put up a 10-2 run. By contrast, Denver did not have an explosive scorer who could return the favor and thus had to accept the second straight loss.

The banner honoring Moses Malone is raised during the half time break of the game between the Nuggets and the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

The banner honoring Moses Malone is raised during the half time break of the game between the Nuggets and the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

During the half time break, the banner honoring No. 2 Jersey of Moses Malone was raised and stretched above the court of the Wells Fargo Center after a statue of NBA's king of offense rebounding was unveiled at Philadelphia's practice facility in New Jersey. Multiple legendary players of the team including Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Charles Barkley and Allen "AI" Iverson attended the ceremony.

"Moses Malone is one of the greatest players in NBA history and he left an incredible mark on the 76ers organization and our fans. He was such a pivotal force in the 76ers' championship run in 1983, where he earned both NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP honors. He is an NBA icon, a 76ers all-time great and we're thrilled to be able to celebrate his accomplishments by retiring his number and unveiling his sculpture on 76ers Legends Walk in February," said Chris Heck, President of Business Operations of the 76ers in a statement.

"He used to always say, ‘Oh, I love playing against Kareem, I just love it. Everybody thinks he's the man, but he never beats me.' He said that to Kareem. I said, ‘Don't get him upset' and he goes ‘I don't care,'" said Erving recalling his time with Malone who passed away in 2015.

Moses Malone #2 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots in the game. /VCG Photo

Moses Malone #2 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots in the game. /VCG Photo

As one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history, Hall of Famer and a 12-time NBA All-Star player, Malone played 1,329 games in which he dropped 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds on average. He won three NBA MVPs and helped the 76ers claim NBA Championship of the 1982-83 season and left the famous "Fo! Fo! Fo!" prediction (promising that they would sweep all opponents in the playoffs).

Malone was 2.08 meters tall, weighed 118 kilograms and had short wingspan (said to equal only his height) plus small hands (smaller than those of Dr, J's). However, those did not stop him from dropping in total 27,409 points (No.9 in NBA history), 16,212 rebounds (No.5 in NBA history) and most importantly, the most offensive rebounds of 6,731 in NBA history. From 1979-1983, he was the league's No. 1 player.

Other games on Friday included: (away teams come first)

New York Knicks 103-120 Detroit Pistons

Cleveland Cavaliers 106-119 Washington Wizards

Chicago Bulls 125-106 Brooklyn Nets

Milwaukee Bucks 122-107 Dallas Mavericks

Golden State Warriors 117-107 Phoenix Suns

Minnesota Timberwolves 117-122 New Orleans Pelicans

Miami Heat 96-102 Sacramento Kings