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#HospitalSixers make Nuggets sweat but can’t get over the hump

Without Joel Embiid and James Harden, the Sixers got down big but nearly saw the end of their bench complete an improbable comeback vs. the Nuggets.

DENVER NUGGETS VS PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, NBA Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Despite another dynamic performance from Tyrese Maxey and a near miracle from the end of the bench, the Sixers fell on their last leg of the road trip 116-111 to the Denver Nuggets Monday night.

After a 25-point first half, Maxey finished with a game-high 29 points on 12 of 21 shooting, shooting 2 of 6 from three.

Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver with 25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists.

Joel Embiid and James Harden were both ruled out for tonight’s game in totally normal ways.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • The Sixers went with Dewayne Dedmon for the first half of the quarter, before going with their small-ball lineup. Denver scored 12 of their first 14 points in the paint, essentially right at the rim.
  • Philly’s offense got off to an even worse start, save for Tobias Harris, who scored 10 of their 18 first-quarter points. The rest of the team was 4 of 16 from the field.
  • While the Nuggets were getting to the rim early, they were struggling from outside, as they opened the game shooting 22 percent from three. The Sixers were only down seven after the first quarter, though it felt like they should have been down more.

Second Quarter

  • Holding the Nuggets without a field goal for over four minutes, Philly made a run to tie the game back up. They had their “athleticism” group out there, with Danuel House Jr. back in the lineup with Jalen McDaniels and Paul Reed. It certainly helped that Maxey got into a rhythm, scoring 20 second-quarter points.
  • In the second, it was the Sixers who struggled from outside while the Nuggets started to see their threes fall. The Sixers were 3 of 9 from deep in the quarter, with two makes coming from Maxey.
  • Once they snapped out of their drought, the Nuggets had no problem scoring, shooting 62 percent from the field in the second. Thanks to Maxey, that was only good enough to more or less keep pace. Georges Niang sank a corner three to cut the lead to four at the half.

Third Quarter

  • Halftime appeared to put a halt to the Sixers’ momentum, as they made only two baskets in the first four minutes of the half, allowing the Nuggets to push their lead back to double digits for the first time since the first quarter.
  • Philly’s offense to start the half was sloppy. They turned the ball over, something they only did once in the second. Out of the timeout, they got two wide-open threes but couldn’t convert. Those misses felt like the turning point between sticking in this game and another repeat of Saturday.
  • Paul Reed wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. He made several impressive hustle plays in the third, starting by blocking Aaron Gordon at the rim in transition. He was also perfect from the field with 14 points.
  • At this time it is once again worth pointing out that Dewayne Dedmon started this game. The Sixers trailed by 14 entering the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Sixers traded baskets with Denver for the first few minutes of the fourth, not cutting a dent in the lead but also not allowing the lead to grow much larger. Still, they emptied their bench around the six-minute mark, sending in Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer, and Montrezl Harrell down 15.
  • The reserves also deserve some credit for not going down without a fight, as they actually made the Nuggets sweat. A 16-2 run cut the lead all the way down to five with just over a minute left. Unlike the Sixers, Denver never pulled their starters either.
  • The game essentially came down to the last possession, as Jalen McDaniels fouled Jeff Green down three with 13 seconds left. The play was challenged, but the trip to the line ultimately ended up sealing it for the Nuggets. It appeared Green had stepped out of bounds before the foul, but alas that portion of the play was not reviewable.
  • The Sixers will head back home where they will host the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET/ESPN).

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