The shorthanded Sixers gave the playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks all they could handle but fell short in a 90-82 loss at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.
All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo came up big for the Bucks (41-39), who are clinging to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and clinched a playoff berth with the win. The Greek Freak nearly recorded a triple-double while pouring in 20 points. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Jason Kidd's squad.
The Sixers (28-52) got off to a strong start and led at halftime. On his 23rd birthday, Dario Saric continued to make his case for the league's Rookie of the Year award. The Croatian forward had another strong performance for the Sixers with 14 points on 6 of 12 from the field and 1 for 6 from three.
The loss extends the team's losing streak to six games with two games left to play this season.
Inside the box score
T.J. McConnell, who came into the game nursing a sore left ankle, dished out a game-high 10 assists. He also added 10 points and three steals.
Richaun Holmes also recorded a double-double with team highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Saric scored 14 points and added eight rebounds and four assists.
The Sixers held Antetokounmpo in check as much as any team can in the first half. The Greek Freak took over after the break, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks. He struggled from the line, however, going 6 of 11 from the charity stripe.
Big man Greg Monroe added 15 points off the bench for Milwaukee.
McConnell left Thursday's loss against Chicago with a left ankle injury. McConnell started and had no restrictions tonight.
Saric continues to play with a 24-minute restriction as he deals with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
The Bucks were without their Rookie of the Year candidate, Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is nursing a sore back and has missed five straight games.
Big man John Henson has missed the last 10 games with a thumb injury. Both players have been practicing with contact and Kidd expects them back in the lineup Monday against Charlotte.
Rookie of the Year
Who should win the Rookie of the Year in the NBA has been hotly debated. Saric has played all 80 games this season and has had a big second half. Joel Embiid only played 31 games but was dominant for good portions of those games. Brogdon has been solid for a playoff team.
Brett Brown made it known that he believes one of his players should receive the honor (see story).
"What I feel most strongly about is 'That's our trophy. That's our award. It comes from Philadelphia,'" Brown said pregame. "We're proud of both of their efforts and both of their progress and development. Not to take away anything from anybody, it's just that personally, I feel very confident and strong saying that."
The Sixers welcome Paul George and the Indiana Pacers to the Wells Fargo Center Monday night in the final home game of the season. The Pacers currently hold the seventh seed in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference.
The Sixers will close out their season Wednesday in New York against the Knicks.