PHILADELPHIA — FEB. 19, 2020 — The Philadelphia 76ers returned to action Thursday after a long All-Star break. The team was 34-21, including 25-2 at home, headed into the game. They faced the Brooklyn Nets on Pride Night, presented by GIANT Food Stores. The 76ers continued their community focus by celebrating diversity, inclusion, and unity. Thursday night’s game featured hosting members and supporters from the local LGBTQ community.
“We are thrilled to host Pride Night [on Thursday] as we celebrate inclusivity and our fans and friends in the LGBTQ community,” Philadelphia 76ers President Chris Heck said. “Alongside GIANT, we’ve built a fun night of activities and festivities that bring together leaders in both the local and national LGBTQ community. This is another incredible opportunity to come together through the power of sports to support equality and inclusion.” Former NBA player Jason Collins joined the 76ers in hosting a VIP reception prior to the game.
Jason Collins Bell Ringer
Former NBA player Jason Collins joined the 76ers in hosting a VIP reception prior to the game. Collins is the first athlete in the 4 major sports to represent the LGBTQ community. The Retired NBA big man has participated in multiple events for the 76ers pride events in the past year. Collins spent much of his career with the Nets and was honored with ringing the bell before Thursday’s game.
Nets GM Sean Marks confirmed Thursday prior to the game against Philadelphia that Kyrie Irving will miss the remainder of the regular season. Irving has been battling a shoulder problem that has limited him to just 20 games this season. Irving will have arthroscopic surgery, and Marks said that he should be fully healthy for offseason activities.
Brett Brown Pregame
Brown said that he plans to use a 9-man rotation in the playoffs. There is still some level of competition for the roles in the back end of the rotation. Alec Burks, Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, and even Furkan Korkmaz were mentioned as options for Ben Simmons who was out on Thursday with back tightness. Simmons suffered the strain during practice Wednesday when going for a rebound. Brown mentioned that the practice was a spirited one. He is happy with players’ focus when coming back from the break.
Game of Runs
The Sixers swarmed the Nets in the first 6 minutes of the game. Joel Embiid led the 76ers to a 20-4 lead in the first 5:50 of the opening quarter. The Nets responded with a massive 40-8 run over the next 13 minutes of play. The 76ers’ offense was plagued with bad shots and sloppy ballhandling over that stretch. At one point in the first half, the Nets held a 20 point lead. A 36-point swing is simply massive in a single half.
Over the final 6 minutes of the first half, the Sixers settled down somewhat and cut into the Nets’ lead but walked into the half trailing 52-42. “I thought the last few minutes of the second period gave us a little bit of life,” said Brown after the game.
Speaking after the game about that second quarter, Joel Embiid said, “They kept getting a lot of offensive rebounds. And that run that we had at the end of the second was huge for us to cut it down to 10 points.” He continued, “Then at halftime, we knew what we had to do; come out and just be aggressive, especially on the defensive end, and for me, I just had to do my thing.”
The third quarter once again featured Joel Embiid offensively. But Alec Burks began showing his microwave potential as he and Embiid carried the Sixers’ offense back to tie the game at 73 with a minute to go in the period. A Caris Levert three gave the Nets a 78-77 lead heading into the final quarter.
Furkan Korkmaz had been held scoreless through three quarters. Over the first two minutes of the closing stanza, Korkmaz stepped in for two huge baskets to give the Sixers a 5-point lead. The first of those baskets came after a possession where the Sixers generated multiple offensive rebounds, the last being an Embiid swat that Korkmaz chased nearly back to the other end of the court.
Caris Levert continued to make huge plays despite struggling mightily from the floor. The teams played back and forth through the middle part of the fourth, with DeAndre Jordan finishing multiple lobs and drew a foul and knocked down two crucial free throws with 2:15 remaining to give the Nets a 6-point lead, 101-95.
After a frenetic run, Joel Embiid walked to the line with 35.9 seconds remaining. He settled his breathing and knocked down two free throws to tie the score at 101. After a Spencer Dinwiddie basket, Embiid was once again fouled with 16.2 seconds remaining and made both again to give him 37 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Embiid played downhill all night and went to the line 19 times, making 18 of them. Tobias Harris was steadily productive on both ends and matched Embiid as the second 76er to have 22/10.
Overtime? In This Economy?
In a game with swings wilder than a pirate ship on Morey’s Pier, overtime was probably appropriate. After a huge stop on the final possession, the teams entered overtime tied at 103. Huge buckets from Alec Burks and Shake Milton, along with smothering defense and rebounding, helped Philadelphia pull away over the last 3 minutes. Alec Burks scored 5 of his 19 points in the final stretch, including a goofy foot (skateboarding term) eurostep reverse layup and one.
In the end, the Sixers finished this one off 112-104. Embiid finished with 39 points and 16 rebounds. The Sixers outscored Brooklyn 9-1 in the five minutes of overtime. Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris Levert were held to 16-48 from the field. This was the fifth game the 76ers have won after trailing by at least 15 points.
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