The Sixers have been led this season by the dominance of a big man. On Monday, they had to fend it off from the opposing team.
The Sixers beat the Heat, 101-94, in spite of a career-high 32 points and 13 rebounds by Hassan Whiteside. Joel Embiid finished with 22 points, five rebounds and three blocks (see story).
The victory was the Sixers' fourth in a row at home this season and marked their first consecutive wins since March 18 and 20 of the 2014-15 season (see story).
The Sixers held the Heat scoreless in the final 3:38. The game was tied 91 apiece when Whiteside picked up his fifth foul and headed to the bench with 3:24 to play. He sat for a minute, during which time the Sixers took a 96-91 lead, enough to put the game away.
Inside the box score
• Gerald Henderson, who was listed as questionable with cold/flu symptoms leading up to the game, scored 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting (3 for 3 on three-pointers).
• Robert Covington continued to receive boos from the crowd as he struggled once again from long range. That is, until he hit a key three to put the Sixers up, 96-91. Covington was most effective attacking the basket. He shot 4 of 13 from the field (1 of 5 from three-point range). Sixers head coach Brett Brown has said he does not plan to remove Covington from the starting lineup.
• Jahlil Okafor had 15 points on 7 of 13 shooting off the bench.
• South Philly native Dion Waiters scored 19 points (6 of 15) with five assists and three rebounds for the Heat.
• Whiteside recorded his 12th double-double of the season.
Jerryd Bayless played his first game for the Sixers after being sidelined by a left wrist injury suffered in training camp. He finished with four points on 1 of 7 shooting along with five assists, two rebounds and two turnovers (see story).
Bayless looked like he bothered his wrist in the first half, but he returned for the second. His first assist came off a three-pointer by Dario Saric in the third quarter.
Brown plans to bring Bayless in off the bench behind Sergio Rodriguez for now.
“It’s very much an assessment to see his pain tolerance and see how healthy the wrist is,” Brown said. “Even if it were 100 percent, there’s still that element of slowly introducing him back to a team that he’s never played with and playing NBA basketball again.”
The Sixers lifted Okafor’s minute restrictions. He had been limited to 24 because of his right knee. Okafor logged 25 minutes off the bench against the Heat. He expects the change in playing time to help him get into a better rhythm.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Okafor said before the game. “Especially when you're dealing with a hard-fought game and me and Jo are so competitive, it was always kind of tough knowing that I can't go out there no matter what the circumstances were. Now that that's changed, it feels good.”
The Sixers will host the Grizzlies on Wednesday followed by the Bulls on Friday.