Warriors 120, Sixers 117: After hot start, lead disappears in 2nd half

Warriors 120, Sixers 117: After hot start, lead disappears in 2nd half


After being beaten by the Sixers on Jan. 31 at Oracle Arena, you knew the Warriors would want revenge.

They got it Saturday night, beating the Sixers, 120-117, at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers had a chance to tie it, down three with 2.4 seconds left, but a well-guarded Tobias Harris stepped out of bounds.

Kevin Durant (34 points), DeMarcus Cousins (25 points) and Stephen Curry (28 points) led the way for the Warriors, who were without Klay Thompson (right knee soreness).

The Sixers are now 3-2 since the All-Star break without Joel Embiid (left knee tendinitis). Embiid talked in depth before the game about his injury and said he plans to be back by next week (see story)

Here are observations from the loss: 

• Ben Simmons played perhaps the best game of his career when the Sixers beat the Warriors in January, posting 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. 

His first-half performance Saturday was near that standard  — Simmons scored 18 points on 7 for 8 shooting, played excellent defense and pushed the pace well. 

In the second half, Simmons struggled. He shot just 3 for 7 after halftime, unable to jump-start the Sixers’ offense and coughing it up whenever he tried to create something special. He nearly had a quadruple-double of sorts, finishing with 25 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists and nine turnovers. 

• When the Sixers took a 71-57 lead early in the third quarter, the thought briefly crossed your mind that they might run away with a win. But the two-time defending champs don’t usually let that happen.

Golden State immediately went on a 16-0 run as the Sixers’ comfortable lead evaporated. The Sixers' inability to stem the run was disappointing, but it’s certainly not the first time the Warriors have stormed back into a game. 

• Harris needed 20 shots to get his 20 points and, like Simmons, wasn’t very effective in the second half, shooting 1 for 8. Harris has played nine games with the Sixers and only shot under 50 percent from the field twice — Saturday night and Feb. 12 vs. the Celtics. 

• If we’ve learned anything about Mike Scott (season-high 22 points) during his short time with the Sixers, it’s that he doesn’t mess around and he knocks down three-point shots. When Jordan Bell took exception to a foul by Scott late in the second quarter, Scott had no hesitation pressing his forehead against Bell’s and getting into a heated dialogue. Bell and Scott both received technical fouls. 

You might remember Scott also picked up a technical on Feb. 23 vs. Portland, sticking up for Simmons (see video).

Scott’s toughness isn’t manufactured or for the cameras. When he gets in an opponent’s face, he’s dead serious. 

His three three-pointers in the third quarter were big for the Sixers, helping to stem Golden State’s run. Scott nailed three long-range shots in the fourth as well. 

• Jonah Bolden, starting for the second straight night, got off to a tremendous start. He scored the Sixers’ first basket, driving by Cousins in the right corner, making one long, explosive dribble to the rim, and finishing with a reverse lay-up — plus a foul from Alfonzo McKinnie. 

About a minute later, he allowed Cousins to get deep post position on him, but then swatted away Cousins’ jump hook. 

Amir Johnson missed Saturday’s game with upper-back tightness, meaning the Sixers had to lean on Bolden more than usual. The rookie played 21 minutes, and he came back to earth a little after his opening surge. He appeared not to know the play call on one after-timeout set, and he got into foul trouble early in the third quarter. Bolden had 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting and three rebounds.

• Another rough shooting night (2 for 9) from JJ Redick hurt the Sixers. Redick entered Saturday’s game shooting 29.2 percent from the floor in his last six games. 

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Kobe Bryant's 7 best NBA moments in Philly

Kobe Bryant's 7 best NBA moments in Philly

We are paying tribute to a legend. 

NBC Sports Philadelphia will re-broadcast three of Kobe Bryant's landmark games Monday night — the 2008 Olympic gold medal game at 6 p.m., followed by Bryant's final game in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. and the 2012 Olympic gold medal game at 10:30 p.m. 

Bryant honed his Hall of Fame talents at Lower Merion High School and sharpened his skills and competitiveness in the Sonny Hill League and on playgrounds across the Delaware Valley. 

Bryant had his share of highs and lows as a professional in his hometown. 

He played 17 regular-season games in Philadelphia, finishing with a 7-10 record and a 22.8 scoring average. More importantly, he had a perfect 3-0 record in postseason games in Philadelphia, with all three wins coming in the Lakers' 4-1 series victory over the 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals. Bryant averaged 25.7 points in those three games and captured the second of his five career NBA championships. 

Here's a look back at some of Bryant's most memorable moments in Philly. 

First NBA game in Philadelphia — Nov. 26, 1996
Bryant played his first professional game in his hometown as an 18-year old reserve, scoring 12 points in 21 minutes in a 100-88 Lakers win. He shot 4 of 10 from the field, 2 of 5 from three-point range and made both of his free throw attempts.  

Bryant's rookie counterpart Allen Iverson finished with 16 points on 6 of 27 shooting and 10 assists. Former Temple star Eddie Jones and Shaquille O'Neal each had a game-high 23 points for the Lakers. 

Bryant came off the bench in 65 of the 71 games he played as a rookie, averaging 7.6 points in 15.5 minutes per game. 

NBA Finals — June 2001
The Lakers and Sixers arrived in Philadelphia for Games 3, 4, 5 of the 2001 NBA Finals with the series even at one game apiece. The 22-year old Bryant famously proclaimed that he was coming to Philly to "cut their hearts out."

The Lakers went on to win the next three games in Philadelphia to secure their second straight NBA championship. 

Game 3 was the closest of the three games — the Lakers won 96-91 behind Bryant's 32 points. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a 14-point win in Game 4 before closing out the series with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 12-point win in Game 5. 

2002 All-Star Game MVP — Feb. 10, 2002
Bryant's "cut their hearts out" comment was still fresh in the minds of Sixers fans eight months later when the 2002 All-Star game was played in Philadelphia. Bryant was booed throughout the night, but he fed off the negative energy to score a game-high 31 points and win the first of his four career All-Star Game MVP awards. 

He was subsequently booed during the All-Star MVP presentation and admitted that his feelings were hurt by the frosty reception from his hometown crowd.  

Bryant averaged 25.2 points during that 2001-2002 season and led the Lakers to a third straight NBA championship. 

44-point outburst — Dec. 20, 2002 
Bryant's best game in Philadelphia came 10 months after that 2002 All-Star Game, when he posted 44 points and 10 assists in a 107-104 loss to the Sixers. He shot 16 of 35 from the field, 2 of 5 from three-point range and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. 

Iverson led the Sixers to victory with 32 points, nine steals and five assists. Keith Van Horn had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. 

The 2003 Lakers came up short in their quest for a fourth straight NBA title, losing to the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals.

Snapping the streak — Dec. 21, 2007
Bryant and the Lakers got their first regular-season win in Philadelphia in nearly eight years, beating the Sixers 106-101 to snap a six-game losing streak at the formerly named Wachovia Center.

Bryant had 19 points in the win, but Andrew Bynum stole the show with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Andre Miller led the Sixers with 21 points and eight assists. 

The 2007-2008 season marked the first of three straight trips to the NBA Finals for Bryant and the Lakers. They would lose the 2008 Finals to the Celtics before beating the Magic in 2009 and winning a rematch with Boston in 2010. 

Last great performance in Philadelphia — Dec. 16, 2012
This was Bryant's last vintage performance in his hometown. The 34-year old Bryant had 34 points and six assists in a 111-98 win over the Sixers. Nick Young led the Sixers with 30 points, while Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes each scored 16 points. 

Bryant's 2012-2013 campaign ended with a torn Achilles tendon late in the 80th game of the regular season. The Kobe-less Lakers were swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. 

This turned out to be Bryant's last great season. He averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds to earn First Team All-NBA honors in his 17th NBA season. 

Final game in Philadelphia — Dec. 1, 2015
Bryant's last game in Philadelphia came nearly 14 years after he was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game. That proved to be plenty of time for old wounds to heal. He was showered with applause and tributes in his Philly farewell, and for a while it looked like he would deliver one final great performance in his hometown. 

Bryant opened the game by hitting 3 of his first 4 three-point attempts, whipping the Wells Fargo Center into a frenzy. But at 37 years old, Bryant eventually ran out of gas and finished 7 of 26 from the field in a 103-91 loss to a Sixers team that entered the game with an 0-18 record. 

Bryant scored 20 points and finished his 20th and final NBA season with a 17.6 scoring average.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Will Sixers have a chip on their shoulder if playoffs happen?

NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Will Sixers have a chip on their shoulder if playoffs happen?

On this edition, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss:

(2:12) — Questioning Joel Embiid's fitness is like beating a dead horse; will the Sixers have a chip on their shoulder?
(13:22) — Charles Barkley calls Moses Malone trade a disaster to his career.
(20:20) — Would the season being cancelled be worse than watching our most hated rival winning the Finals?

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