The story of tonight goes a little something like this: Despite getting outrebounded 50-40, a young, scrappy and hungry Philadelphia 76ers' team was able to hold off the Miami Heat for a 101-94 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
Two wins in a row! Four straight victories at home! That sound you hear in the distance is the #TeamPanic T-shirt printing press warming up in a warehouse nestled just beneath the Walt Whitman Bridge.
Tonight's game wasn't pretty by any stretch. Both teams shot under 42 percent in the first half, so it was a good thing that many Sixers' fans missed the first 24 minutes thanks to the underwhelming service that is NBA League Pass.
In fact, it was pretty much a seesaw contest until late in the fourth quarter: With the Sixers up 93-91, Robert Covington - who was booed throughout most of the night - nailed his one and only three-pointer of the game, giving the Sixers a five-point lead with three minutes to go. With the windows and doors fully locked and secured, the Sixers didn't throw away their shot, finishing the game on a 12-5 run to pull out the seven-point victory.
In the most anticipated duel since Hamilton and Burr, Hassan Whiteside and Joel Embiid battled to something of a draw. Whiteside led all players with 32 points and 13 rebounds, but had difficulty checking Embiid and found himself in foul trouble at the end of both halves. Embiid, on the other hand, was a force on both ends of the court, and the 7-2 center finished with 22 points, five rebounds and three blocks (and only one turnover) in the victory.
"Every time people hear my name, I want them to know that I'm a dominant player," said Embiid during his post-game interview with Molly Sullivan-French.
Speaking of big men, the Sixers were the beneficiaries of a solid performance by Jahlil Okafor tonight. Sans minutes restriction, he showed an increased willingness to play defense, and his craftiness around the basket (and in the lane) resulted in 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
That said, the Sixers could have stood to be a bit more physical on the glass against the Heat. The main (only?) reason that the game was competitive late was that Miami was able to pull down a ridiculous 21 offensive rebounds (which gave them a 26-8 edge in second chance points).
What's up next for Brett Brown's crew? A date with the Memphis Grizzlies on Thanksgiving Eve. History has its eyes on you, Sixers - can you make it three in a row? Will we ever be satisfied?
A few random thoughts:
- Jerryd Bayless (1-for-7 from the floor, four points) looked every bit like a player who was making his season debut tonight. However, following a scare early in the second quarter after he landed on his injured wrist, Bayless was effective in the two-man game with Okafor.
- In the Battle of Philly (kind of like the Battle of Yorktown, but different), Gerald Henderson scored a season-high 19 points (6-for-8 from the floor, 3-for-3 from deep) and got the best of Dion Waiters, who also had 19 points on a far-less efficient 6-for-15 shooting performance.
- Covington's shooting slumps continues, but he was all over the court against the Heat, grabbing rebounds (nine, including five offensive) and playing solid defense (he led the team with three steals).
- T.J. McConnell was the point guard in crunch time, which make sense if Brett Brown thought that he was the best option to check Goran Dragic. And it looks like Brown was right: Other than a garbage time three-pointer by Josh Richardson, the Heat didn't score a basket after McConnell checked in at the 3:38 mark of the fourth quarter.