Sixers Win OT Thriller Over Spurs, 113-111.
As the season winds down and playoffs are just over the horizon, the push for the top seed in the East is in full effect for the Sixers. With the Nets’ loss to the Bucks earlier today the Sixers had an opportunity to reclaim the lead in the East with a matchup against the Spurs down south.
The Spurs came into tonight’s matchup down three key players. Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, and Jakob Poeltl were all sat for tonight’s matchup against Philly. The Sixers, who have begun to string together a couple of healthy games, had all starters active for the contest as they hunt for the top spot in their conference.
Seth Curry put on a shooting clinic early for the Sixers, helping them push out to an early ten point lead by the end of the first behind fourteen points with three triples dropping. Curry once again getting hot early in a contest, a positive from him since he’s been able to string together a couple of games without an injury. The Spurs bench would keep it close though, as Lonnie Walker IV and Gorgui Deng proved to be too much for the Sixers second unit. Joel Embiid had a quiet night by his standards early, but would lead all Sixers in points with 19 by halftime. With Seth Curry’s amazing first half, the Sixers held a nine point lead going into the break.
The third quarter saw the Philly bench step up, particularly Dwight Howard. The Sixers starters came out early for rest and the Sixers second unit was able to hold onto the lead behind Howard. Howard finished the night with 14 points and eleven rebounds, his eleventh double-double of the season. Howard now has back to back double-doubles, coming in games where the Sixer starters have given him a decent lead into the third. Thanks to his efforts Philly held on to a ten point lead going into the fourth, up 89-79.
The fourth is where disaster struck for the Sixers. For starters the lack of production from two of their stars came back to bite them in the final quarter. Tobias Harris was cold as ice tonight, finishing with just six points on 3/10 shooting. Ben Simmons, who looked visibly injured for the second half of the contest, finished with only five points off two made buckets. With those two not producing offensively and the Spurs swarming Embiid, San Antonio was able to claw back into the game. The Sixers only managed 18 points in the fourth, and couldn’t stop Keldon Johnson and Rudy Gay, who would both finish with 19 and 18 points respectively. With under a minute, Johnson would notch his 16th and 17th point to send the game to overtime at 107 all.
Overtime would be a defensive battle, filled with offensive foul calls and coaches challenges. Notched at 109 Keldon Johnson was fouled in route to the hoop by Embiid, but a Doc Rivers challenge would reverse the call and put the ball back into the Sixers hands. After two free throws from Joel, Ben Simmons would take a crucial charge from Johnson that was not overturned when challenged by the Spurs. After a series of turnovers Rudy Gay would sneak a layup past Joel to tie the game up at 111 with 19 seconds remaining in overtime. The Sixers would hold for last shot, where Joel would miss a fadeaway jumper, only for Ben Simmons to tip the ball in with .2 seconds on the clock to give the Sixers the win.
It wasn’t pretty, and certainly not a great way to start a road back-to-back, but the Sixers got the job done in San Antonio. Joel Embiid would lead all scorers with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Seth Curry finished with 22 points while shooting a perfect 6/6 from beyond. With the win Philly reclaims the top spot in the East for the time being. Now they’ll look to hold onto the top spot with a challenging game tomorrow night in Chicago. With the starters having to put extra minutes in, and Simmons visibly injured, it’ll be interesting to see who Rivers decides to play in a crucial game for seeding in the East.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia 76ers, Ky Carlin.