With Ish Smith on the bench nursing a sprained ankle, Jahlil Okafor and T.J. McConnell picked up the slack with big games against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Okafor had a career-high 17 rebounds to go with a team-high 22 points, while McConnell scored a career-high 17 as the Sixers surged in the fourth quarter for a 103-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The victory gives the Sixers eight this season, which is one shy of the NBA record for fewest wins in a season. Baring an epic collapse over the final 31 games of the season, the Sixers will not set a new record for futility.
Robert Covington hit a three-pointer with 1:16 to go in the game to give the Sixers the lead they would never relinquish. However, the big shot was set up by a missed free throw from McConnell and a hustling offensive rebound for Okafor to set up Covington’s three-pointer.
Covington and Nik Stauskas also salted away the game with some foul shots down the stretch.
Okafor notched his 10th double-double of the season, the third-most of all rookies this season. Nerlens Noel added 18 points on 8 for 11 shooting to go with four steals and three blocks.
Okafor grabbed seven offensive rebounds and was a plus-13 in 33 minutes.
McConnell connected on 7 for 10 from the field, including 2 for 2 from three-point range, while Hollis Thompson came off the bench to score 14 with three three-pointers.
Former Sixer Thad Young notched his 24th double-double of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Brooklyn’s bench outscored the Sixers, 35-33, with Markel Brown scoring 15 points on 5 for 5 shooting.
Smith missed his first game since joining the Sixers on Dec. 26. He is expected to play on Monday, according to coach Brett Brown (see story). With Smith in street clothes, McConnell moved back into the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 13 and logged 29 minutes, his most since going 30 minutes on Dec. 5.
The Sixers continue the homestand on Monday when they host the Blake Griffin-less Los Angeles Clippers. The Sixers lost to the Clippers on Jan.2, 130-99, and are winless against the Clips since the 2010-11 season.
Following the game against the Clippers, the Sixers host the struggling Sacramento Kings, who have lost six of their last seven.