The 76ers, once again, benefited from being at home.
In the past, it was a place where they could get their mojo back after painful road losses. And that was case Wednesday night in a 117-106 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers improved to 26-16 overall and 19-2 at home. This win came after consecutive road setbacks to the Indiana Pacers (Monday) and Dallas Mavericks (Saturday).
Tobias Harris paced the Sixers with a game-high 34 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. He made 14 of 20 shots — including 4-of-6 three-pointers. He also had three assists and a steal. Twenty-four of his points came after intermission. All four of his three-pointers in five attempts came in the second half.
“There is a sincerity in him as a person and there is a genuine desire to win,” coach Brett Brown said of Harris. “You can’t dismiss that. There’s a genuine desire to win. You can see it in his face, his actions in the locker room. It matters. He cares a lot.”
Brown isn’t surprised that Harris, who was the postgame bell ringer, had this type of performance coming back to Philly after two road losses.
Ben Simmons (20 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds), Josh Richardson (15 points, 3 blocks, 1 steal), Al Horford (14 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block), and reserve Furkan Korkmaz (15) were the Sixers’ other double-digit scorers. Rookie Matisse Thybulle finished with 5 points, a career-high 4 blocks and 2 steals while getting the start at small forward.
Spencer Dinwiddie paced Brooklyn with 26 points, while Jarrett Allen had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. Kyrie Irving struggled through 6-of-21 shooting while scoring 14 points with Richardson the primary defender. The six-time All-Star, who signed with Brooklyn this summer, graded out with a minus-29. This was his third game after being sidelined since November with a shoulder injury.
On paper, this was supposed to be a confidence-boost game for the Sixers.
The Nets (18-22) have lost nine of 11 games following Wednesday’s contest. They were also playing their second game in as many nights.
But Philly had its hand full against the scrappy Nets.
The teams played through 12 lead changes and 10 ties before the Sixers took the lead for good on Horford’s hook shot with 3 minutes, 30 seconds remaining to make it a 106-104 game. That started a 7-0 run that basically decided the game. Brooklyn was held 16 fourth-quarter points.
"Just to get out there and get tonight’s win and feel good and to play good as a team and just to feed off one another is big for us,” Harris said. “We just got to keep that rolling.”
Simmons had his third consecutive solid first-half scoring performance. Fifteen of his points came on 7-for-10 shooting in the first two quarters. The All-Star point guard scored 20 first-half points against the Pacers and had 11 versus the Mavericks.
Sixers center Joel Embiid missed his fourth consecutive game after tearing a ligament in his left ring finger. Horford, who’s playing center in place of Embiid, struggled most of the night before scoring 7 points on 2-for-3 shooting in the fourth quarter. Overall, he made just 4 of 14 shots. He also had a tough time guarding Allen for a while.
“They are trying to figure it out, and they are getting better, and Al can play the four, obviously, he’s a mismatch problem at the five,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "Once the playoffs come, that’s a nice problem to have that they can go either way. That’s a nice problem.
“But I think Al, particularly Al, I think he’s trying to figure out a new team. One thing about Al, he’s an excellent player. He’s going to figure it out. You’ll see it at the end. He’ll be playing great basketball. He’ll fit in just fine here.”
Brooklyn reserve center DeAndre Jordan left the game second quarter with a dislocated right middle finger. He did not return.
The Nets signed former Sixer Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (two points, one steal) to a 10-day contract following the game. He was on a two-way contract with Brooklyn. Meanwhile, the Nets released Justin Anderson, another former Sixer, whose 10-day contract was expiring.