DENVER — The last time the Sixers played in Denver, they were shocked by Emmanuel Mudiay’s buzzer-beating hero shot.
They nearly gave up the game again Friday. The Sixers surrendered a 10-point lead with 4:20 to play and found themselves tied with 49.4 seconds remaining.
They pulled ahead with free throws and seemed in the clear for their first win of this road trip, but Embiid was whistled for his sixth personal fouling Nikola Jokic while he was shooting a three. The Nuggets big man made the first two and intentionally missed the third to give his team an opportunity to send it into overtime.
The Nuggets couldn’t connect on their putback attempts and the Sixers escaped with a 124-122 win.
Inside the stats
Robert Covington broke his shooting slump with 19 points on 6 for 12 shooting.
T.J. McConnell stepped up in the starting lineup with 17 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
Joel Embiid scored 23 points while going 5 for 13 from the field after sitting out Thursday's game for rest. He also added six rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks over 29 minutes.
Ersan Ilyasova had a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Jokic stood out for the Nuggets with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
A (very) shorthanded victory
Nine was just enough. The Sixers were down four active players against the Nuggets. They decided to sit Jahlil Okafor because of left hamstring soreness. Gerald Henderson (left hip soreness) and Sergio Rodriguez (left ankle sprain) were sidelined in Denver, while Richaun Holmes remained in Philadelphia following the NBA’s concussion protocol.
Fourth quarter awareness
The Sixers have been bombarded coming out of third quarters, a point of emphasis after Thursday’s loss to the Jazz. Once again, they struggled in the final 12 minutes before squeezing out the ‘W.’
“The game is long and the fourth period is different,” Brown said in Salt Lake City. “Try to embrace and admit the reality of this is our league, have our young guys figure out how to deal with it, be stronger with the ball, be more purposeful with what we’re doing, and lock in because the game changes after the 36-minute mark.”
The Sixers will travel back to Philadelphia following the game. They will play next on Jan. 3 when they host the Timberwolves.