No Jimmy Butler. No Mike Muscala. No victory.
Spencer Dinwiddie’s career-high 39 points propelled the Brooklyn Nets to a 127-124 victory over the shorthanded 76ers Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The reserve point guard scored 27 of his points in the second half and scored Brooklyn’s last six points from the foul line.
This marks the fifth-year guard’s second straight performance of 30-plus-points against the Sixers. He had 31 points on Nov. 25.
“I don’t know. We seems to make every guard look like a freakin' Hall of Famer,” Joel Embiid said.
An inability to stop Dinwiddie dropped the Sixers to 19-10 and marked just their second home loss in 16 games. They also dropped to 1-2 in their season series with the Nets (11-18).
Butler missed the game with the groin strain he suffered in Monday’s 116-102 home victory over the Detroit Pistons. Muscala, a reserve post player, was sidelined with an upper respiratory infection.
The Sixers could have used Butler’s ability to take over games and Muscala’s shooting, especially in the second half. Brooklyn battled back from a seven-point deficit (69-62) with 7 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Nets went on to build a 13-point cushion (92-79) with 1:11 left in the quarter.
“It’s hard,” Ben Simmons said of playing without Butler and Muscala. “I mean, you get used to a guy being there. Then two guys are out that you are used to having in there, which means other guys have to step up and fill that role, come in and play defense, rebounding.
“It could be the little things. But I think everybody need to be accountable. Myself and everybody.”
The Sixers closed the gap to six points (111-105) on Embiid’s three-pointer with 3:24 to play. But Ed Davis responded with a pair of foul shots before Furkan Korkmaz, who started in place of Butler, turned the ball over on consecutive possessions trying to find Simmons in the post.
Taking advantage, the Nets went on to build an 11-point advantage with 54.2 seconds left.
"After the game, right away when I came to the locker room, I wanted to watch the possessions because I think those two possessions were the game, "Korkmaz said of the turnovers. "I feel like I could throw a better pass, tougher pass, sometimes that happens. I think I need to work on it.
The second-year guard felt guilty for the defeat.
But the Sixers battled back into the game and pulled within 127-124 on Amir Johnson’s put-back with four seconds remaining in the game, but were unable to get the ball back before the horn sounded.
Dinwiddie’s second-half surge was the difference.
“I think it’s just communication on our end,” Simmons said of the Sixers’ inability to stop him. “I think we just need to communicate more [when playing] that team. It’s the same thing every time we play them.”
Embiid paced the Sixers with 33 points and 17 rebounds for his NBA-leading 25th double-double of the season. Simmons finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Korkmaz added 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting.
Shamet scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.
With Butler out, Embiid didn’t have to assume the role as the stretch five and position himself in the perimeter at the start of the game. Instead, the 7-foot-2, 270-pounder dominated the low post. He had 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds in 19 minutes, 3 seconds of action in the first half. Those first-half rebounds tied a floor record by Dikembe Mutombo.
Embiid’s lone three-point attempt in the first half came with 28 seconds before intermission. That pulled the Sixers within 57-56.
The problem for the home squad is that Embiid was basically a bystander in the third quarter and Dinwiddie heated up, scoring 15 in the period. All of his points came during a decisive 22-9 run that gave the Nets a 92-79 advantage with 1:11 left in the quarter.
Embiid scored his only points of the quarter on a three-point play with 52 seconds left. He finished with just 10 second-half points, while attempting just three shots, making two during that time.
“I’m not sure why I only got [three] shots in the second half,” he said. “But I’ve got to go back and learn from it and figure out what happened.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown didn’t give a timeline for Butler’s return.
“I don’t know how soon he’s going to play,” Brown said. “He’s out tonight. I don’t know what that means in relation to longevity.”