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Phew ... Sixers win a thriller over new-look Nets

After a sleepy start, Joel Embiid and strong late-game defense gave the Sixers a dramatic win over the Nets Saturday night.

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

For the second straight night, the Sixers overcame three quarters of ugly basketball to knock off a New York team. The Sixers squeaked by the Brooklyn Nets 101-98 as Spencer Dinwiddie’s half-court heave was just too late.

Joel Embiid scored at least 30 points for the 31st time this season, going for 37 points on 12 of 18 shooting.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Lackluster effort from the Sixers had this thrown together Nets squad out to a double-digit lead early. Mikal Bridges stole an inbound that Joel Embiid intended for Harden, but was thrown to no one. Brooklyn grabbed four offensive rebounds within the first six minutes of the game.
  • The Sixers settled in offensively after their first timeout. Embiid went after Ben Simmons in the post like a shark smelling water on Simmons’ first possession of the game, but he wasn’t hunting Ben like their matchup in Philly. Embiid’s done a good job at these quick passes back to the shooter as of late.
  • We got our first look at Jalen McDaniels in a Sixers uniform, and his impact was most felt contesting threes. McDaniels can really affect shots, but is perhaps a little over eager to help and close out, something the Sixers already have their troubles with.

Second Quarter

  • Joe Harris hasn’t really found a rhythm this year for the Nets, but he was in one early, making four of his first five shots from downtown. Brooklyn as a unit shot 50 percent from three in the second quarter.
  • McDaniels appears to be a lob threat:

So of course, he shared 0 minutes with Harden in the first half. Philly’s offense looked uninspired in the second. They were taking the shot clock all the way the down on nearly every possession without getting a half decent look.

  • Their scoring was horribly imbalanced. The trio of Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton were held scoreless through the first 23 minutes of the game, but 17 points apiece from Embiid and Harden kept the Sixers afloat, as they went into the half trailing by eight.

Third Quarter

  • The offense was equally flat coming out of the break as it was going in. The Sixers ate up the shot clock with fruitless isolations for most of the night. Another dominant third quarter from Embiid kept them in it, 14 of his x came in the third.
  • There was a notable spark with McDaniels and Maxey on the floor, as they possess speed and athleticism the rest of the roster doesn’t have.

Fourth Quarter

  • The offense as a team hasn’t been great as of late, but Tobias Harris is seriously struggling. He shot 1 of 9 tonight, and Doc Rivers opted to have Georges Niang on the floor to close the game, with Harris going offense/defense with PJ Tucker.
  • It was an odd night for James Harden, who had a rough passing game for his standards. He only recorded five assists and turned the ball over three times, but he was able to provide scoring that Philly desperately needed. He finished with 27 points on 9 of 20 shooting and while he did blow the potential game-winning layup, Embiid scooped it right up to draw a foul.
  • Brooklyn was held scoreless for about five minutes in the fourth, helping the Sixers climb back in the game. For as out of it as they looked early, Philly locked in on the defensive end of the floor down the stretch to give themselves a chance to win.
  • For as good as the Sixers’ defense was down the stretch, Mikal Bridges got a great look with three seconds left to potentially go back in front. He got right by Melton but like James Harden a possession before, he just smoked the layup. They caught an even bigger break, as Spencer Dinwiddie appeared to send the game to overtime with 0.9 seconds left, but after a review, the officials ruled he just didn’t get the shot off in time.
  • The Sixers will return home to take on the Houston Rockets Monday at 7 p.m., though hopefully the city of Philadelphia will be too busy with parade plans to notice.

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