Sixers do the improbable to cap off homestand

Sixers do the improbable to cap off homestand


The game started off as another example of the trials and tribulations the Sixers face without Joel Embiid. It ended with a massive comeback victory, 104-102, over the Heat. 

The Heat dominated the Sixers, leading, 62-39, at halftime Wednesday. The Sixers looked out of sync without Embiid (right ankle soreness), who didn’t play for only the second time in 20 games. 

That’s why there are four quarters, though. The Sixers began to take back control in the third, thanks in part to a 12-0 run that cut a 24-point deficit in half and put the game back within reach.

The Sixers came all the way back in the fourth quarter and were up five points with 13 seconds to play … but not so fast. Tyler Johnson hit a trey and the Heat regained possession after Ben Simmons committed an out-of-bounds turnover while passing. The Heat had one last chance to steal back the win. Dwyane Wade, who has knocked down key shots countless times over his career, missed what would have been a game-winning three as time expired. 

• The Sixers extended their winning streak at the Wells Fargo Center to 11 games. They have not lost in Philadelphia since Dec. 21.

• This was an important game for the Sixers because of potential playoff implications. The Sixers entered the night half a game ahead of the Heat in the seventh spot. After this matchup, the Sixers improved to 30-25, while the Heat dropped to 30-28.  

• Marco Belinelli showed why the Sixers pursued him, and vice versa, in his debut. He gave the first glimpse into the spark he can provide off the bench. Belinelli scored 17 points (7 for 12 from the field, 3 for 5 from three) in 28 minutes, including key buckets in the Sixers’ comeback run (see highlights).

• Another night, another triple-double for a Sixers’ point guard. Following up on T.J. McConnell’s performance, Ben Simmons posted his sixth triple-double of the season: 18 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals. He ranks third in the NBA behind Russell Westbrook and LeBron James in triple-doubles. 

• Richaun Holmes clocked 28 minutes after barely seeing the court lately. He contributed a high-energy 11 points and nine rebounds. Trevor Booker neared a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Dario Saric once again had a solid offensive night (team-high 19 points). 

• The Sixers were whistled for three technical fouls (McConnell, Saric, JJ Redick) in the second quarter alone. 

• It remains to be seen how many events Embiid will participate in All-Star weekend. In addition to starting in the All-Star Game, he was selected for the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game and the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.

“In regards to a definitive, ‘This is what he's going to do,’ that has not been established,” Brett Brown said before the game (see story).

Sixers catch fire from 3-point range in win over Hornets

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Sixers catch fire from 3-point range in win over Hornets


The Hornets put up a fight before the Sixers locked in for a 108-94 win Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The Sixers’ 14-point victory was closer than the final score reflects. They trailed the Hornets by as much as seven and went through 11 lead changes and six ties. The Hornets overcame a 4-for-21 shooting performance in the third quarter to tie the game halfway through the fourth before the Sixers pulled ahead for their 39th win of the season (39-30). The Hornets fell to 30-41.

• The Sixers signed Marco Belinelli with the vision of him being a JJ Redick-type player in the second unit. The veteran got hot in this game, scoring 21 points off the bench. Belinelli shot 5 for 9 from three in 24 minutes. Overall, the Sixers drained 18 shots from distance on 44 attempts (40.9 percent).

• Ben Simmons posted his ninth triple-double of the season (11 points, 12 rebounds, 15 assists, zero turnovers), ironically just hours after pointing out the wear and tear of the NBA schedule is catching up. Before the game, he said the team has been “kind of mentally fatigued.” 

“It's just frustrating,” Simmons said. “Missing plays or just messing up on the floor, turnovers, rebounds that you should have gotten, it's just the little things that kind of get under your skin.”

• In the battle of the bigs, Joel Embiid emerged on top with 25 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks. (He also committed nine turnovers). Dwight Howard (10 points, four rebounds) and Amir Johnson (five points, one three-pointer, seven rebounds) were involved in a throwback big man matchup, circa 2005. Both centers were drafted straight out of high school. The Sixers had the advantage on the boards, 60-40. 

• Justin Anderson earned first-quarter minutes after a solid showing in the Sixers’ previous game. He finished with seven points, four boards and two assists in 20 minutes. Dario Saric, who's been a reliable offensive contributor, scored just five points. 

• Kemba Walker bounced back from his offensive struggles in the previous matchup between the two teams to lead the Hornets with 24 points, eight rebounds and six dimes. 

• Nicolas Batum (left Achilles soreness) did not play. The Hornets missed his 11.9 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. 

• Eagles Michael Bennett and Malcolm Jenkins took in the action.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Raptors' win streak

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Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Raptors' win streak

TORONTO — Russell Westbrook had 37 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight triple-double, Steven Adams scored 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Raptors 132-125 on Sunday, snapping Toronto's winning streak at 11.

Paul George scored 22 points and Carmelo Anthony had 15 as the Thunder extended their winning streak to six. Corey Brewer scored 10 points for Oklahoma City.

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and Kyle Lowry fouled out with 22 points and 10 assists as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors suffered just their sixth home loss of the season. Toronto is 29-6 at Air Canada Centre, the best home record in the NBA.

DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Raptors coach Dwane Casey were all ejected in the final minute for complaining to the officials. DeRozan was incensed after not getting a call on his drive with 30 seconds left, and picked up two technicals in the following 22 seconds (see full recap).

Davis leads Pelicans past Celtics
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the banged-up Boston Celtics 108-89 on Sunday night.

Second-year pro Cheick Diallo had a season-high 17 points and Nikola Mirotic added 16 for New Orleans, which was desperate to win after dropping four of its previous five while in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Davis capped his night by hitting a baseline fallaway as he was fouled by Abdel Nader to make it 106-85 with 3:35 to go. The shot brought the crowd to its feet as Davis stumbled toward the sideline, where he exchanged high-fives with several fans before walking to the foul line to hit his foul shot.

The play capped a 22-6, fourth-quarter run to blow open what had been a tight game for most of the first three quarters (see full recap).

Harden scores 34 as Rockets hold off Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS — James Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, and Houston held off a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-120 on Sunday night for the Rockets' 26th win in 28 games.

The West's top team led by as many as 25 before the Timberwolves, holding on for dear life in a tightening playoff race, pulled within five in the fourth. The loss dropped the Wolves into the eighth playoff spot after they started the day in a three-way tie for fifth.

Harden had 11 points in the final 6:34, including a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left that effectively secured the win.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela each had 16 points for the Rockets.

Jeff Teague led Minnesota with 23 points, Andrew Wiggins had 21, and Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Crawford each added 20 (see full recap).