Sixers avoid another near-disaster with comeback

Sixers avoid another near-disaster with comeback


The Sixers got back on track at the Wells Fargo Center with a 120-116 down-to-the-wire win Friday over the Nets. They had to climb out of a 13-point deficit and play disciplined down the stretch to overcome the Nets, who have proved pesky this season. 

The Sixers moved up to 38-30 with the victory while the Nets fell to 22-48.

• Fans sang “Happy Birthday” to Joel Embiid while he shot free throws and then got creative with a new chant: “E-M-B-I-I-D Embiid” to the tune of “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles.” Embiid posted 24 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in spite of shooting 6 for 23 from the field. He was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line.

• A timeline for determining Markelle Fultz’s availability still has not been set, Brett Brown said pregame. 

“I think at some point soon a decision is going to have to be made so that we can progress forward,” Brown said. “But sincerely, there is nothing going on right now that you all don’t know that I know.”

When asked if he thinks Fultz will play this season, Brown replied, “I truly don’t know.” 

• Former Sixers Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since being traded to the Nets in December. Okafor was greeted with some boos when he checked in, and the jeers got louder when he touched the ball. Okafor scored 10 points with three boards in 13 minutes.

Okafor said it was “weird” being in the visitors’ locker room and spending the night in a hotel. He actually got lost finding his way through a different arena entrance. 

“Being here where my NBA career basically started, it feels good to be back and see some familiar faces,” he said before the game. 

• Justin Anderson (11 points) got playing time after falling out of the rotation as of late. He dropped nine points in the first quarter off a trio of threes. More importantly, Anderson played tough defense with Embiid on Spencer Dinwiddie with 21 seconds left in regulation to maintain the Sixers’ lead. 

• Ben Simmons neared another triple-double (21 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds), which is becoming a common occurrence. Dario Saric (nine points) failed to score in double digits for only the second time since the beginning of December. 

• D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 24 points in the first two games against the Sixers, scored only eight points (3 for 14 from the field). The Nets were led by 21 points and 10 rebounds from Chester, Pa., native Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. 

• Hall of Famer Allen Iverson stood courtside to watch the game go down to the wire. Check out the whole video to see how he addressed the crowd. 

• Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was also in attendance. 

The judges give Raptors a perfect 10

USA Today Images

The judges give Raptors a perfect 10

INDIANAPOLIS -- DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 17 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors rallied late to get past the Indiana Pacers 106-99 on Thursday night for their 10th straight victory.

The Raptors need one more win to tie the franchise's longest winning streak. They haven't lost since Feb. 23 and broke a tie with the 2016-17 squad for longest road winning streak, which is now at eight.

But it sure wasn't easy on a night Darron Collison scored 22 points and Al Jefferson had a season-high 20 for Indiana.

The Pacers took the lead late in the first quarter and didn't trail again until midway through the fourth.

Toronto finally seized control when C.J. Miles made three 3-pointers during a 12-3 spurt that turned an 85-81 deficit into a 93-88 lead with 5:21 to play. The Raptors never trailed again and led by as much as eight twice in the final eight minutes.

Indiana got within 102-99 in the final minute, but the Raptors closed it out when DeRozan stole an inbounds pass and scored on a breakaway dunk with 10.5 seconds left (see full recap).

Spurs edge Pelicans, move into 8th seed
SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points, Dejounte Murray had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame another late rally to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 98-93 on Thursday night.

New Orleans was playing hours after learning Pelicans owner Tom Benson had died. Benson was hospitalized with the flu on Feb. 16 and never recovered. The 90-year-old native of San Antonio owned both the Pelicans and the Saints.

"For us, the motivation is that we still want to try to do everything we possibly can to try to accomplish the goal that he set out for us. That's to try to put ourselves in a position to win a championship," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.

Anthony Davis finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, but fouled out after playing 36 minutes. New Orleans remained in fifth in the West.

San Antonio moved into eighth in the West, holding the final playoff berth after sitting in 10th earlier this week.

The Spurs had dropped out of playoff position in part after blowing a 17-point lead to the Los Angeles Lakers and a 15-points advantage against New Orleans.

New Orleans again erased a 15-point deficit to pull within 91-90, but Davis fouled out soon after.

Jrue Holiday added 24 points for New Orleans (see full recap).

Harden, Gorden help Rockets hold off Clippers
HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 24 points, Eric Gordon added 23 and the Houston Rockets outlasted the Los Angeles Clippers for a 101-96 victory on Thursday night.

The Clippers scored six straight points, with four from Austin Rivers, to cut the lead to a basket with less than a minute left. But on the next possession, Harden stepped back and knocked down a long 2-pointer with Rivers in his face to make it 100-96.

Rivers missed a 3-pointer after that before Harden made one of two free throws with 6.2 seconds left to secure the victory.

It's Houston's third straight win and snaps a three-game winning streak for the Clippers.

Tobias Harris led the Clippers with 29 points and Rivers had 20 (see full recap).

Embiid ditches tape for dominance in Sixers' comeback

Embiid ditches tape for dominance in Sixers' comeback


NEW YORK — Joel Embiid brushed off concern over taping his left wrist Thursday leading up to the Sixers’ game against the Knicks.

“It’s just swag,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 118-110 win (see observations). “I just wanted to look swaggy, so I thought it was a great look for me. Some type of new swag. That’s why I had it.”

Embiid’s wrist was taped during morning shootaround and pregame warmups. He did not wear it during the game. 

“It’s been feeling weird lately, but I don’t think it’s anything,” Embiid said. “I’ve been playing alright, so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.” 

Embiid played more than alright Thursday at Madison Square Garden. He erased any uneasiness of a potential injury with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. The big man scored 13 points in the first quarter alone. 

With 2:26 to go in the game, he blocked an attempted layup by Emmanuel Mudiay that would have given the Knicks back the lead.

“He was the major reason we won tonight,” Brett Brown said. “Joel was our bell ringer tonight. Tomorrow is his birthday. It was a good present we all had with his performance tonight.”

The sight of Embiid's wrist probably would not have raised an eyebrow for most players — athletes wear medical tape every game — but the center’s lengthy injury history and his importance to the Sixers were enough to cause concern.

He is averaging 23.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. After playing under medical restrictions to start his career, Embiid has appeared in 12 straight games. 

Embiid is slated to spend his 24th birthday taking on the Nets Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.