The 76ers held on to a thrilling victory on Darryl Dawkins Tribute Night.
After blowing a 15-point lead, they came through in the clutch to post a 103-98 decision over the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.
The Sixers improved to 8-43 despite playing without their lifeline, point guard Ish Smith (sprained left ankle). They snapped a four-game losing streak.
"We were down without Ish, but other guys stepped up," Robert Covington said.
However, he was the one that really stepped up in the clutch.
Covington gave the Sixers the lead for good at 97-96, draining a 26-foot three-pointer with 1 minute, 16 seconds left. They extended their lead to three points, 99-96, when Nerlens Noel dunked on Brook Lopez with 21.3 seconds left. Then Covington's foul shot made it a 100-96 game with 10 seconds remaining.
Former Episcopal Academy standout Wayne Ellington closed the gap to two points, 100-98, with a pair of foul shots 1.7 seconds later.
Nik Stauskas put the Sixers back up by three with a foul shot, and T.J. McConnell stole the ball from Shane Larkin. Covington went on to make a pair of foul shots with 4.9 seconds left to give the Sixers their five-point victory.
They prevailed without Smith thanks to Jahlil Okafor, McConnell, Noel, and Covington.
Okafor finished with 22 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in his third straight game at power forward.
Noel added 18 points, four steals, and three blocks. He left the game with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter after twisting his right ankle. The second-year player went to the locker room to get his ankle retaped and returned with 9:14 remaining.
McConnell, who started in place of Smith, finished with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with six assists. Covington finished with nine points. He was shooting 1 for 7 and had just three points before his clutch three-pointer. The small forward scored six of his team's final nine points.
"That's what shooters do," Covington said of burying the three-pointer despite having an otherwise awful offensive game. "You put the last shot behind you. The next one, you imagine it going in, and that's what I did."
Former Sixer Thad Young finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. All of his points came after intermission.
Young appears to have found a nice landing spot with the Nets. He came into the matchup averaging 14.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. He has a career-best 24 double-doubles. His previous mark was 21 during his time with the Sixers in the 2012-13 season.
The Sixers selected Young out of Georgia Tech with the 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder played his first seven seasons with the Sixers before being traded to the Timberwolves in August 2014. The Timberwolves then traded him to the Nets (13-39) last February.
Young opted to sign a multiyear deal to remain in Brooklyn in July. Saturday marked the 27-year-old's third regular-season game in Philadelphia as a member of a visiting team.
Smith missed his first game since being reacquired by the Sixers in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 24. The point guard sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss to the Washington Wizards.
"We fully expect him to be available on Monday," coach Brett Brown said of the home matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. "It's as much precautionary as it is anything."
Dawkins honored. NBA commissioner Adam Silver; Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns; and former Sixers Julius Erving, World B. Free, and Doug Collins honored Dawkins, who died in August from a heart attack, with video tributes in the first half.
At halftime, Sixers play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff, Free, and former Sixer Bobby Jones honored Dawkins in a half-court ceremony that concluded with the Sixers presenting the Dawkins family with a framed jersey. The Sixers cheerleaders wore red No. 53 Sixers jersey with "Dawkins" on the back.