The other guys carry Sixers to win in Denver

The other guys carry Sixers to win in Denver


DENVER — A game without Joel Embiid turned into a complete team effort. It needed to. The undermanned Sixers completed a feat done only once before this season: win minus Embiid.

“Everybody played a role and I think that’s just how we’ve got to play,” Ben Simmons said Saturday following the Sixers 107-102 victory (see observations).

There is no replication for Embiid when he is out, in this case on the first night of a back-to-back (medical restriction). It has to by committee, which has been easier said than done.

The Sixers were 1-7 without Embiid (their last victory came Nov. 7) heading into Saturday night’s game at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets had been an impressive 12-3.

They had to overcome a third-quarter deficit to win this game and did so with a 21-4 run … while Ben Simmons and JJ Redick were on the bench.

No Embiid. No Simmons. No Redick. Yet the group on the court still took care of business. The Sixers improved to 16-19 on the season.

“It was sort of done with an unlikely crew,” Brett Brown said. “And that’s the reason you have a team.”

The Sixers got contributions throughout the night from the starting five down to the bench. Six players finished in double digits, including three reserves.

Dario Saric led the team with 20 points (nine rebounds and six assists), followed by Redick (18 points), Robert Covington (15 points, 10 rebounds), Jerryd Bayless (14 points), Richaun Holmes (14 points) and T.J. McConnell (10 points, eight assists).

These stat lines included continued momentum and bounceback performances.

Saric followed up his 25-point game against the Trail Blazers Thursday with another near-double-double. Richaun Holmes had not played in the last two games and got a look at extended minutes (19) off the bench in Embiid’s absence.

It was Bayless who made a major splash during the Sixers’ game-changing spurt, dropping seven points in the third after a scoreless first half. He shot 6 for 10 from the field on the night after combining for 4 of 14 in his previous three outings.

“Jerryd Bayless, particularly I’m proud of because he has been down,” Brown said.

Said Redick, who has been on the opposing end of a Bayless takeover in the past, “Jerryd gave us a huge lift, got us back in the game and gave us the lead.”

The Sixers will get Embiid back Sunday in Phoenix to take on the Suns, a team they already lost to at home this season. They can count on him on both ends of the floor, but Saturday's win was another reminder of how much better they can be when they are getting contributions across the entire roster.

"Everybody played well," Bayless said. "We played the right way. I think that’s something I’ve said every time I’ve talked to you guys. If we play the right way, we’re pretty good. I think it shows. We’ve just got to continue to do that."

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

USA Today Images

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored 19 points, Marcin Gortat had 18 and the Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.

Washington (40-30) earned its second straight win to move into a tie with Indiana for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards also claimed the first tiebreaker by taking two of three in the season series.

Gortat was 6 for 8 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored a total of 17 points in his previous four games.

Washington went 10 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 54.8 percent from the field overall. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 16 points for the Wizards, and Markieff Morris added 15 (see full recap).

Giannis' double-double helps Bucks hold on to beat Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 122-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

The Bucks finished off the Eastern Conference's worst team with a game-ending 11-5 run, pushing the pace after the Hawks lost ball-handler Dennis Schroder. The guard fouled out with 2:46 left, and was called for a technical foul after exchanging words with an official on the way to the sideline.

Middleton hit the free throw that started the run. The Hawks looked rushed on their next two possessions with a turnover and a blocked shot, allowing the Bucks to brush past them.

Trailing by 13 at one point, Atlanta put up a spirited fight before losing its 50th game of the year. Taurean Prince scored 38 points, while Schroder finished with 18 (see full recap).

LeBron gets 33 points in triple-double as Cavs beat Bulls
CHICAGO — LeBron James scored 33 points as part of a triple-double, Jordan Clarkson had a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:27 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Saturday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 15th triple-double of the season, and Jeff Green added 21 points. Clarkson finished with 19 points to help the Cavaliers salvage a six-game split on their season-high six-game trip.

Denzel Valentine led Chicago with a career-high 34 points, hitting 8 of 11 from long range. The Bulls wiped out a 17-point halftime deficit even though they held out banged-up core players Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, only to come up short in the closing minutes.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue spent the second half in the locker room with an illness, another hit for an already short-handed team (see full recap).

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

AP Images

Justin Anderson has his number called — and delivers

One responsibility of professional athletes is being ready when your number is called.

Seems like a simple concept. However, not everyone can handle the duties of coming into a game cold and making an impact.

The Sixers' Justin Anderson prides himself on being able to thrive in just that type of situation. That's why when Brett Brown told him to be on alert prior to Friday's 120-116 win over the Nets, he was good to go.

"He came up to me before the game, maybe like 20 minutes before the game, and said he was going to go to me tonight," Anderson said. "I told him I was going to be ready. He went to me and we all played well."

Oh, Anderson was definitely ready. The third-year swingman entered at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter and made a trio of three-pointers to keep the sluggish Sixers afloat early on.

“I had hit the first one, and they were talking a little trash. They didn’t respect it, so they continued to go under [screens],” Anderson said. “I was always taught if they go under, raise up and shoot it. That’s what you practice for. I just wanted to make sure I took good shots, played hard, brung energy and I think we did a good of doing that.”

Wait, so guys on the 21-48 Nets squad had the nerve to talk a little smack? While a bit laughable, it didn’t help in knocking Anderson off his game.

“It just showed me that they weren’t disciplined in their scouting report and I tried to take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s not like I’m shooting 20s [percent] from the three. It was what it was and I just wanted to take advantage of my opportunity.”

Anderson finished with 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range along with two rebounds in 14 minutes. Even with that offensive production, it was his defensive prowess in the final minute that made the biggest impact on the night.

“We had the confidence to both give Richaun (Holmes) some minutes and Justin when it mattered and had a big stop,” Brown said. “I think it was against (Spencer) Dinwiddie. You know, moved his feet, guarded the yard as we call it.

That’s major trust in a player who missed 23 games earlier in the season with shin splints and eight more recently with an ankle sprain. But with the playoffs right around the corner, Brown knows he may need to go to Anderson again in an even more crucial moment.

“Good for him. He’s a wonderful teammate, he’s good people and he’s had sort of an erratic year with injury,” Brown said. “I thought tonight he confirmed what we all think in relation to him being able to help us.”