Sixers beat Clippers after being down by 19 without Okafor or Embiid w/ Philly Native Kevin Hart In
The biggest story line surrounding the 76ers' game with the Los Angeles Clippers had to do with the players' and coaches' availability.
The Sixers were without Joel Embiid (left knee bruise) and Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness). The Clippers didn't have Chris Paul (left thumb ligament tear) and coach Doc Rivers (illness).
But the Sixers didn't need those particular two centers. Their other two, Nerlens Noel and Richaun Holmes, spearheaded a come-from-behind 121-110 victory Tuesday night in front of 17,591 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers (16-27) extended their home winning streak to six games after battling back from a 19-point third-quarter deficit. This also marked their ninth victory in 12 games overall. They also snapped a nine-game series losing streak to the Clippers (30-17).
The Sixers entered the contest with a 2-10 record in games in which Embiid didn't play. They had lost three straight in that situation. Tuesday's victory should serve as a boost in confidence. The Sixers also will be without Embiid in
Wednesday's matchup with the Bucks in Milwaukee.
"I think this victory says lot about our team," T.J. McConnell said. "I know that we relied on Joel. But we are going to play without him in games this year.
"People need to step up, and I thought Richaun stepped up amazingly tonight and proved why he's very valuable to this team."
Holmes had one of those y'all-better-think-twice-about-sending-me-back-to-the-87ers games. The 6-foot-10, 245-pounder scored a career-high 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting in a reserve role. Eleven of the second-year veteran's points came in his first four minutes of action.
"Everybody wants to play on the big stage. Everybody wants to play here," said Holmes, who had three stints with the team's NBA Development League affiliate.
But Holmes looks at everything as an opportunity. So he specifically looked at playing for the 87ers as an opportunity to play and get better.
"Then when I get back here, it's an opportunity to show what I can do, show what I worked on," Holmes said. "I'm just glad we got the win."
The Sixers recalled Holmes from their NBA Development League team on Saturday to play against the Atlanta Hawks. That came after an eight-day stint with the Sevens. His last NBA game before Saturday was on Dec. 14.
"Richaun came in and gave us a big, big push off the bench," Robert Covington said. "When he came out the gate, he had so much energy on both ends that got us going. I think without Richaun tonight, his energy and what he brought, we wouldn't have been as successful as we were."
Noel, meanwhile, made 8 of 10 shots to finish with a season-high 19 points in a season-high 29 minutes, 16 seconds. The 6-11, 232-pounder also had eight rebounds and three blocks in his first start since last season's finale.
"It was like old times," Noel said of being back in the starting lineup. "Just to go out there and play with some freedom, being able to go up and down the court and maximize your minutes."
Reserve Dario Saric (16 points), Covington (14), Gerald Henderson (11), and Ersan Ilyasova (10) joined the Sixers big men as double-digit scorers.
The Clippers were paced by Jamal Crawford, Rivers' son, Austin, and J.J. Redick. Crawford finished with 27 points on 9-for-14 shooting in a reserve role. Redick added 22 points while making 5 of 10 three-pointers. Rivers finished with 20 points.
DeAndre Jordan finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers. However, the center made just 4 of 12 foul shots and heard about it.
Blake Griffin finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in his return from knee surgery.
Trailing, 78-59, with 10:02 left in the third quarter, the Sixers went on a 41-16 run to take a 100-94 lead with 8:45 left and never looked back.
They had a commanding 113-100 lead on McConnell's layup with 3:19 left.
Okafor was scratched right before the game. Noel, however, had a feeling Tuesday morning that he would get the start. That's because Okafor's knee was bothering him and he was unable to finish the shootaround.
He had been dealing with knee soreness throughout the season after having surgery on March 22 to repair the meniscus in his right knee. The injury cost him the final 23 games of his rookie season. A CAT scan on March 8 revealed the tear.
His latest bout with soreness occurred during Saturday's loss to the Hawks.
Embiid hurt his knee on a third-quarter dunk in Friday's victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
(Story by Philly.com)