By Mark Gallagher

This is the kind of game the Sixers might have lost last season, when they weren’t nearly as deep and talented as they are now.

Joel Embiid was out with an ankle, and the 76ers still had too much height and speed for the Detroit Pistons, 117-111.

Tobias Harris scored 29 points against his former team, Al Horford added 23 and Mike Scott had 17 as a reserve. Of their 69 points, 33 came on 11-of-19 3-point shooting.

“They are really tough to guard because they’ve got so many big guys who can pop out and knock down a 3-pointer,” Pistons center Christian Wood said.

Harris said the Sixers won by sticking to their game plan despite Embiid’s absence.

“We were playing defense, moving the call and creating shots,” he said. “I had a lot of great looks because we would get a stop at one end and we would get down the floor and create something off the run.”

Philly had 30 assists to Detroit’s 20 and held one of the league’s best offensive-rebounding teams to five in 37 attempts.

“We’ve got a lot of new parts and we’re still learning each other, but we kept battling tonight,” said Ben Simmons, who had 13 points and 10 assists. “That was huge.”

The Pistons also weren’t at full strength, either. Blake Griffin’s season won’t start for Detroit until November because of knee and hamstring soreness and Reggie Jackson missed the game with a back injury.

Detroit led by 13 points in the third quarter, but Drummond came out of the game with his fourth foul, leaving Dwane Casey to improvise a lineup that also couldn’t include leading scorer Derrick Rose. Philadelphia cut the lead to one in less than four minutes.

“A stretch without Blake, Reggie, Andre and Derrick is going to be tough,” he said. “We’re asking guys to play together who have never been on the floor as a group with the game on the line.”

Rose led Detroit with 31 points in 27 minutes, but his history of injuries doesn’t allow Casey to use him as much as he’d like.

“Believe me, I would love to have him out there for 40 minutes a night, but he just can’t do it,” Casey said.

The Pistons turned the ball over 23 times, leading to 31 Philadelphia points, and missed 15 free throws in a game that was close until the closing moments. Drummond had 13 points and 12 rebounds, but only three came on the offensive end, and he was 3-of-10 from the line.

“You can’t make 21 free throws out of 36 and turn the ball over 23 times against a great team,” Casey said.

Drummond had a chance to tie it in the final five minutes, but Kyle O’Quinn blocked his layup and Simmons scored at the other end before Drummond got off the floor. That gave the 76ers a 101-97 lead with 4:37 to play and forced coach Dwane Casey into a timeout.

After a Pistons miss, Horford hit a 3-pointer, then made it 107-97 with a three-point play after a Detroit turnover.

Horford added two more baskets as the Sixers closed out the game.

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