By Julie Glass
The Sixers showed an ability last night that escaped them when they were in the NBA weeds for four years:
Coming from behind in the fourth quarter for a win.
Joel Embiid had 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.
Robert Covington 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.”
Ex-Sixer 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.”
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.