hassan whiteside

Sixers do the improbable to cap off homestand

Sixers do the improbable to cap off homestand

BOX SCORE

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).

Milestone night for Brett Brown has a familiar feel

Milestone night for Brett Brown has a familiar feel

BOX SCORE

Maybe the matchup will be more intense next time.

The anticipated social media-fueled battle between Joel Embiid and Hassan Whiteside turned into a sidenote in the Sixers’ 103-97 win over the Heat.

There wasn’t that much to see from the Embiid-Whiteside pairing in the first half. Whiteside was sidelined early after picking up two fouls. After that, they alternated on the court because of substitutions in the second quarter. 

Embiid recorded his 24th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 7 for 17 from the field and 0 for 4 from three. Whiteside appeared only 18 minutes with nine rebounds and four points (2 for 6 from the field) before sitting out the rest of the way with an illness.

We will have to wait and see if the competition continues beyond this game — where else? — on Twitter or Instagram. 

• The victory was No. 100 for head coach Brett Brown as the Sixers snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back up over .500 (25-24). The Heat dropped to 29-23. 

• The Sixers nearly lost a 28-point lead in the fourth. The Heat went on a 16-0 run at the start of the quarter. They cut the Sixers’ lead to as few as four points, 101-97, with 23 seconds to play in a lineup without Whiteside or All-Star Goran Dragic. Robert Covington committed what could have been a costly lost-ball turnover but Ben Simmons picked off a steal on the Heat’s next possession. 

• Dario Saric jumpstarted the Sixers with 12 points in the first quarter. He posted 17 points and 10 rebounds with four assists on the night. 

• Simmons scored 20 points to lead all players. He added six rebounds, five assists and two steals. 

• Covington looked to break out of his shooting slump with 13 points (3 for 7 from three). At shootaround, Covington said he wasn’t going to force shots just to take them. “It comes within offense,” he said. “I'm not going to go outside and make myself go against our principles. That's never been me.”

• Backup shooting guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot sat out because of gastroenteritis. Jerryd Bayless, who did not play in the previous game, saw 12 minutes of action. Luwawu-Cabarrot’s absence also opened up an opportunity for Justin Anderson, who made the most of his 12 minutes with 11 points off 4 for 4 shooting.

• The Heat's bench tried to pick up the offense. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points, followed by Wayne Ellington (16 points) and Bam Adebayo (15 points, 13 rebounds). Dragic was limited to 10 points in 23 minutes.

• Fans sang the Eagles’ fight song throughout the game on Brotherly Love Night. They concluded the game with a “We Want Brady” chant: 

• Here’s your Markelle Fultz pregame video of the evening:

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Wizards' Bradley Beal aims to quiet his buddy Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has made noise with his mouth and social media presence.

His trash talk took the NBA by storm after the Sixers' preseason finale last Friday against the Miami Heat in Kansas City.

Embiid went after Heat center Hassan Whiteside (there's some history there) in a hilarious Twitter exchange that caught the eyes of many.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal is one of them.

"JoJo is my boy. I like JoJo. We have the same trainer and work out in the summers," Beal said Monday to NBC Sports Washington. "That was crazy. That was really crazy. He was letting his feelings be known."

The Sixers travel to the Wizards for their season opener Wednesday night. While Beal said he likes Embiid’s trash talking because it "keeps guys competitive," he added that his friend better not try it against his team.

"When he plays us, we're going to try to shut him down as best as we can," Beal said. "We aren't trying to hear none of that talking and I'm gonna let him know about it, too."

Embiid joked that he's the social media king.

"To me," he said, "it’s all fun."

The fun shifts to the court Wednesday night.

We'll have to see if the trash talk follows.