DENVER - The pregame talk centered on the supposedly inspired Denver Nuggets. 76ers coach Brett Brown even said they were playing with a little more purpose since the teams last met on Feb. 2.
"They have talent," Brown said. "You look at their roster, and they're talented. . . . They have enough talent and depth to win in this league. On first glance, that's what I see."
But what 14,068 fans at the Pepsi Center witnessed was the Sixers snapping their 16-game road losing streak.
The Sixers defeated the Nuggets, 99-85, in their first road win since they beat the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Jan. 9.
Sparked by Isaiah Canaan's three-pointer with 3 minutes, 47 seconds remaining, the Sixers (18-54) ended the game on a 15-2 run.
Robert Covington and Nerlens Noel both had solid performances. Covington made 6 of 11 three-pointers en route to a game-high 25 points. Meanwhile, Noel made another strong case for his rookie-of-the-year candidacy.
The Sixers center had 14 points and four blocked shots to go with game highs of 15 rebounds and four steals. This was his rookie-class-leading 15th double-double of the season. Seven of his points came in the second quarter.
Canaan, the backup point guard, added 15 points.
Ty Lawson paced the Nuggets (27-45) with 19 points in the team's fourth loss in the last five games. The Sixers also swept the season series between the teams.
The Sixers were without Luc Mbah a Moute. The power forward was given the night off to rest a sore left shoulder.
Jerami Grant started in his place. The rookie finished with six points and a game-high five blocks in his second start of the season.
The Sixers didn't look like the team playing on back-to-back nights, with three games in four nights. They opened the game with an 8-0 advantage. However, the teams went on to play through four lead changes and one tie before the Sixers went into intermission up, 49-46.
The Nuggets took a four-point cushion into the fourth quarter, capitalizing on miscues by Canaan.
He was called for a shot-clock violation near midcourt with his team clinging to a one-point lead. Canaan appeared to attempt a shot before losing the ball. Then he tried to shuffle it to a teammate as the clock expired. Seconds later, Lawson shot a three-pointer in his face to give Denver a 74-72 advantage. Then Jameer Nelson stripped Canaan on the ensuing possession and scored a breakaway layup to but Denver up six points with 5.9 seconds left.