MIAMI - No one outside the 76ers locker room expected this. Heck, probably some inside the room didn't expect this, either.
How could they?
The Sixers dressed only eight players Tuesday night for their game against the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. But they exited South Florida with a 91-87 victory.
The win enabled the Sixers (4-23) to win consecutive games for the first time since they ended last season with wins over the Boston Celtics and Heat.
This win "just backs up and confirms the things that we've been saying for a while," Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
Regardless of the circumstance, Brown wants the Sixers to play with an endless energy and undying spirit. They did that Tuesday night by battling back from a 23-point third-quarter deficit. The Sixers went on to outscore the Heat, 36-11, from the 5-minute, 37-second mark of the third quarter to the 4:34 mark of the fourth. That gave them an 87-82 lead.
That turnaround came after the Sixers went with a small lineup.
"We were trying to speed up the game to try to claw and scratch for anything to make some adjustment to do something to get back into the game," Brown said.
The Sixers held the Heat (13-16) to just 20 points in the final 20:53.
"You credit eight guys that just found something extra to steal a fantastic win on the road," Brown said.
Michael Carter-Williams led the Sixers with 20 points, six steals, and five assists. Luc Mbah a Moute added 19 points. K.J. McDaniels (13), Robert Covington (11), and Jerami Grant (11) were the team's other double-digit scorers.
"It was a great win for the team, I thought," Carter-Williams said. "Coming back like that and sticking together, especially when we were short guys - eight guys - and we have some guys out that are real key players. It was great for us. We pulled it together."
Shooting guard Hollis Thompson (upper respiratory infection) and reserve power forward Furkan Aldemir (plantar fasciitis) were ruled out at the shootaround. Reserve point guard Tony Wroten was a late scratch after aggravating a right knee sprain that sidelined him for six games earlier this season.
Joel Embiid and Jason Richardson have yet to play this season, both recovering from stress fractures in their right feet.
The Heat also were shorthanded, with Chris Bosh (strained left calf), Josh McRoberts (right meniscus tear), and Justin Hamilton (concussion) missing the game.
Yet Miami was supposed to beat the youthful Sixers. Instead, the Heat ended up losing for the sixth time in their last seven home games.
"I think we just keep fighting," Carter-Williams said. "We're losing, there is not much that we can do than keep plugging and keep trying to come back, especially when there is time left the game."