No Joel Embiid. No Jahlil Okafor. The third quarter — and the outlook for the game — appeared dismal.
Turned out, it was no problem.
The Sixers trailed the Clippers by 19 after being outscored 10-0 in the first two minutes out of halftime. It seemed like the familiar story of struggles without Embiid.
However, the Sixers snapped out of it with a burst of their own to propel them to a 121-110 win. They outscored the Clippers, 30-21, in the third despite not making their first basket until 2:27 into the quarter.
The Sixers tied the game at 89 apiece heading into the fourth before they ran out to a 100-94 lead. As they have been doing in recent games, the Sixers maintained their composure down the stretch and kept the Clippers at bay in the fourth.
The Sixers pulled off the victory with a hodgepodge of contributors, most notably 18 points in 19 minutes off the bench from the seldom-utilized Richaun Holmes.
The Sixers got their first victory in the last four games without Embiid (left knee contusion) and improved to 3-10 in his absence. Okafor was questionable with right knee soreness and ruled out shortly before tip-off.
Inside the box score
• Nerlens Noel led the Sixers with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks as the starting center.
• Sergio Rodriguez had nine points, seven assists and a plus-22 rating as the backup point guard.
• Dario Saric dropped 16 points and eight rebounds.
• T.J. McConnell neared a double-double with nine points and 10 assists.
• Blake Griffin appeared in his first game since Dec. 18 after undergoing right knee surgery. He started and recorded a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in 30 minutes.
• Jamal Crawford led all players with 27 points (3 for 5 from three).
• J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers combined for 42 points in the Clippers’ starting backcourt.
• DeAndre Jordan finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds while being taunted by the crowd as he went 4 for 12 from the free throw line.
(Temporary) coaching change
Doc Rivers did not coach the Clippers because of illness. Assistant coach Mike Woodson assumed the role in Rivers’ place. Woodson was a head coach for nine seasons with the Hawks and Knicks.
The Sixers’ crowd was star-studded as Kevin Hart and M. Night Shyamalan were in attendance. The Sixers honored Shyamalan with a special theme night.
The Sixers will travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks (21-23) on Wednesday. The two teams faced off just over a week ago when the Sixers put together an impressive 113-104 road win, holding Giannis Antetokounmpo to only two points in the second half.