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Sixers-Nuggets observations, 'best' and 'worst' awards: Jerryd Bayless, Mason Plumlee and Denver's shooting woes

Jerryd Bayless was unstoppable late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.

Sixers’ Jerryd Bayless, left, goes up for a three-point basket over Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton in the second half.
Sixers’ Jerryd Bayless, left, goes up for a three-point basket over Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton in the second half.Read moreDavid Zalubowski / Associated Press

DENVER – Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 107-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets Saturday night at the Pepsi Center.

Five observations

—  Jerryd Bayless has received his share of criticism this season. However, the Sixers reserve combo guard showed why the team signed him to a three-year, $27 million contract in July, 2016. He was on fire late in the third quarter to early in the fourth. He scored all 14 of his points during the stretch. Successfully running their offense through him, Bayless scored all but four of the Sixers points during that time.

—  The Sixers were able to close out the game. That's a positive. However, they made the game a lot closer than it should have been. JJ Redick's jumper with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining gave them a 103-97 lead.  The Sixers didn't score again until Robert Covington made a pair of foul shots to make it a 105-100 game with 19.5 remaining. Luckily for them, the Nuggets' offense was horrendous, missing basket after basket from point-blank range down the stretch. Denver only made 11 of 41 shots in the second half, as the Sixers escaped with the victory.

— Richaun Holmes had one of those he-needs-to-play-more games. The reserve post player saw action because Joel Embiid had the night off. Holmes responded with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting  He also finished with three rebounds, three assists and one block before fouling out late in the game. Holmes saw 18 minutes, 40 seconds of action after not playing in the past two games.

Trevor Booker's points production has cooled off a bit since being acquired in a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 7. He averaged 13.3 points in his first three games.  However,  the reserve power forward finished with two points for the third time in four games on Saturday. He had three points in the other game during the stretch.

— Once again, the Sixers didn't come close to matching their opponents' free-throw attempts.  The Nuggets attempted 34 foul shots, making 25 of them. Meanwhile, the Sixers went 9 of 10 from the foul line. On Thursday, they made 10 of 14 while, the Portland Trail Blazers went 36-47.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

— Best performance: Bayless didn't come close to being the game's leading scorer. However, he gets this award for sparking the Sixers.

— Worst performance: This was an easy one. Based on their frustration with Mason Plumlee, the Nuggets fans would agree. Plumlee gets this award after finishing with just one point. The center missed all six of his shot attempts and went 1-for-6 from the foul line. A horrible free-throw shooter, the Sixers went to a Hack-A-Plumlee to help get back into the game in the third quarter.

— Best defensive performance: I'm giving this to Gary Harris. The Nuggets shooting guard had five steals.

— Worst statistic: The goes to the Sixers scoring just two second-chance points. 

— Best statistic: You have to give this to the Nuggets shooting 59.1 percent (13-22) in the first quarter.

— Worst of the worst: This goes to the Nuggets' second-half shooting woes. They resembled a middle-school team while repeatedly missing point-blank baskets and clanking three-point attempts off the rim.