The Philadelphia 76ers narrowly escaped with a 101-98 road win against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
The Sixers open a five-game homestand that spans the All-Star break Monday against the reeling Houston Rockets.
Joel Embiid led Philadelphia with 37 points and 13 rebounds and James Harden added 29 points, six assists and six rebounds at Brooklyn.
The Sixers were awarded the victory when Spencer Dinwiddie’s 40-footer was ruled to still be in his hand as time expired.
“I was not happy with our defensive execution, but we got away with it,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “That was a helluva win. We just kinda hung in there all game. They came out with so much energy, made a lot of shots. We missed I don’t know how many wide-open shots because they were double-teaming.
“Jo had 37 points and that’s what everybody will focus on, I’m focusing on his passing when guys were not making shots and trusting it and just kept doing it,” Rivers added.
Jalen McDaniels, acquired at the trade deadline, made his Sixers debut and had five points and four rebounds.
“It felt good to get back out there,” McDaniels said. “High energy win, high intensity. That’s how each game is gonna be playing here so it’s good to be out there to support the win.”
Rivers believes that McDaniels will be an asset to an already deep team.
“He’s gonna help us,” Rivers said. “He’s gonna really help us. His length, his rebounding, he’s gonna be big for us. You can see it.”
Philadelphia doesn’t play another road game until March 1 at Miami.
The Rockets will look to snap a five-game losing streak when they battle the Sixers.
Unlike a few previous losses, Houston was much more competitive in Friday’s 97-95 road loss against Miami. Gabe Vincent threw an alley-oop pass to Jimmy Butler for a dunk at the buzzer to lift the Heat.
Ever-improving Jabari Smith Jr. scored 22 points, Kenyon Martin Jr. added 17, Alperen Sengun contributed 12 and Jalen Green had 11, including what had been the game-tying layup with 0.7 seconds remaining.
The result was another loss, the 43rd of the season for the frustrated Rockets.
“I feel like the stats will show that I’m not developing as I want to, but I feel like I’m learning,” Smith said. “I’ve learned so much about this game. The game has slowed down so much for me. I feel like I’m developing great.”
The Rockets’ defense was solid throughout against the Heat. That had not been the case in four previous losses — 117-111 to the Toronto Raptors, 153-121 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 140-120 to the Sacramento Kings and 130-128 to the Kings.
To be fair, the young roster has been overhauled. This team is clearly rebuilding for the future.
Players who joined them like Justin Holiday, Danny Green and Frank Kaminsky are likely not going to be retained after the season.
“We are going to have the most cap space of any team in the NBA, I believe,” Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said. “We’re going to have a lot of room to sign free agents, to make trades into that space.”
–Field Level Media