76ers put brakes on mini-skid with win over Clippers
LOS ANGELES -- It was bumpy for some short stretches, but the upstart Philadelphia 76ers were able to show much of their true potential Monday night and the future looks extremely bright.
Ending a brief two-game losing streak was far from easy, but second-year player Joel Embiid helped get the Sixers back on track with 32 points and 16 rebounds, and rookie Ben Simmons added 22 points and 12 rebounds in a 109-105 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Adding a little polish was fifth-year player Robert Covington, who added 31 points and two key fourth-quarter 3-pointers as the Sixers looked more like the team that had won five consecutive before dropping back-to-back games last week at Sacramento and Golden State.
“That one felt great, especially for me because I felt like I had been inconsistent the whole year,” said Embiid, who played a career-high 35 minutes. “I really needed this one and my coach and my teammates gave me the motivation.”
The Clippers initially looked motivated, building a five-point lead with two minutes remaining, but they could not hold on.
Lou Williams scored 30 points off the bench for the Clippers, who saw their losing streak reach six games. Blake Griffin scored 29 for Los Angeles, which has not won since Nov. 1 against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Clippers have now lost eight of their last nine games.
The 76ers trailed 100-95 with just over two minutes to play but got even with 1:18 left after a 3-pointer by former Clipper JJ Redick and a driving layup from Simmons.
The Clippers led 101-100 after a free throw from Willie Reed, but a Covington 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining gave the Sixers the lead for good.
Redick scored 10 points in his return to Los Angeles, waving to the crowd after a video tribute in the first quarter. His 3-pointer was the only one he made in seven attempts, but it came when it counted most.
Reddick said he stayed in the moment during the video tribute and elected not to watch. His eyes were wide open, though, while watching Embiid and Simmons take their young act right at the veteran Clippers.
“They’re two of the best players in the league already and they’re very young,” said Redick, who joined the 76ers this year after four years in Los Angeles. “What Ben has been able to do over the first 13 games of his career is really impressive and they both can get better. I think their ceiling is all-NBA, All-Star, MVP-caliber players.”
It felt less like that, though, during consecutive defeats last week. Being on the cusp of a third straight loss forced the Sixers to dig deep, using tight defense late in the game to undo the Clippers.
“It was big and we needed that one to get back on track,” Simmons said. “A West Coast trip, an away game, that was huge. I’d say it was our best (victory) so far, just because it was the latest one.”
The Clippers remain in search of something similar. They returned home after losing all three games on a road trip through San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
Playing without guards Patrick Beverely (ankle) and Milos Teodosic (foot), they looked to be headed toward just their second victory of the month before their late collapse.
“Every loss concerns me, but I like this team, we just have to get it right ... and right now we’re not,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers sad. “It doesn’t get any easier. We go out on the road now and play Cleveland the first game, so we have a tough road trip coming up.”
DeAndre Jordan grabbed just five rebounds and scored only two points for the Clippers before he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Griffin scored 16 points in the second quarter but was held scoreless in the final 12 minutes of the game, going 0 of 4 from the field in the fourth quarter.
“Down the stretch, I didn’t think we made plays; we didn’t get stops,” Griffin said. “We had a lead and then we just didn’t do what we should have done.”
Trailing by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, the Clippers went on a 23-11 run to close out the first half and trail 55-53 at halftime.
NOTES: Clippers C Willie Reed was called for a Flagrant-1 foul in the second quarter against 76ers C Joel Emibiid, with the players separated by teammates and officials before the confrontation could get more physical. ... Clippers G Lou Williams, who played his first seven NBA seasons with the 76ers, scored 30 points against his former team, three days after scoring 35 at Oklahoma City, the most from any NBA player off the bench this season. ... 76ers C Jahlil Okafor did not play because of an upper respiratory infection, joining Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Markelle Fultz (shoulder) and Nik Stauskas (ankle), who were not in action. ... 76ers F/C Amir Johnson, a Los Angeles native who attended Westchester High School, had four points and three rebounds in his return home.