DENVER — The Sixers on Saturday night picked up their second win of the season without Joel Embiid thanks to a third-quarter comeback that led to a 107-102 victory over the Nuggets.
They moved to 2-7 without the big man, who sat out of the first night of a back-to-back because of his medical restriction. The Sixers had not won an Embiid-less game since Nov. 7.
Jamal Murray led all players with 31 points. Dario Saric led the Sixers with 20 (see more below).
The Sixers took this game back with disciplined ball. They trailed by 14 with 7:29 to play in the third before going on a 19-4 to run to take the lead. The Sixers did not commit a turnover during that stretch. They made the push with Ben Simmons and Redick on the bench. Saric scored seven points and Jerryd Bayless added six in the quarter. Bayless finished with 14 points (6 for 10 from the field).
The game wasn't a guarantee, though. The Nuggets crept back into it, as both teams' offenses stalled in the fourth. The Sixers led 103-97 with 4:10 to play. From that point on, the Sixers didn't score again until 19.5 seconds left (Robert Covington free throws).
• Amir Johnson got the start in place of Embiid. Richaun Holmes clocked 19 minutes off the bench after not playing in the last two games. So how does Brett Brown decide who to start?
“One's better at defense, one's better at offense,” Brown said at shootaround. “It's really that simple. Amir is a better defensive player and rebounder at this stage of his career. Richaun is lightning in a bottle, can change a game, got a bounce, probably more capable in bursts offensively.”
Johnson scored eight points, five rebounds and five assists. Holmes posted 14 points, three rebounds, three assists in 19 minutes off the bench. He fouled out with just under three minutes to play.
• Wilson Chandler said the Nuggets’ approach to Simmons was keeping him out of the paint. Simmons took (and made) one shot outside of the area. He finished the game with six points (3 for 9 from the field), six rebounds and six dimes.
• The Nuggets were game planning to limit Saric, which didn’t pan out. Before the game, head coach Mike Malone broke down why he considers Saric “a really skilled basketball player.”
The Nuggets are watching out for Dario Saric. pic.twitter.com/QNVTuTdIUT— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) December 31, 2017
• Covington started after leaving the last game with a left middle finger injury. He finished with a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Covington explained how he was hurt against the Trail Blazers.
"I got hit directly on with the ball," he said. "My finger just kind of drooped. It was weird and I didn't have feeling in it for a while. Then we had to put it in a splint right after the game."
• Justin Anderson was inactive. His status was in question leading up to the game because of shin splints. He has not played since mid-November.
• The Sixers travel to Phoenix Saturday night to take on the Suns Sunday evening.