By Julie Glass
Dario Saric (above) scored 23 points, Robert Covington had 21 points and 13 rebounds and the undermanned Sixers beat the Brooklyn Nets 106-101 to get their 28th win, matching their combined total from the previous two seasons.
“It’s just a testament to all the hard work,” Covington said. “This team is very resilient. We fight each and every night we step on the court.
“It’s a relief to see everything we’ve been working for paying off even though we’re not there where we want to be just yet,” Covington added. “But it’s all about the process and it’s all about the steps that you have to take.”
Philly got its 11th road victory of the season. They had just nine the previous two years combined.
“People, maybe, think we’re not doing a good job, but Joel (Embiid) got 30 games this year, Ben Simmons got no games this year and we still have 28 wins,” Saric said. “We’ve gotten an opportunity. That means we’re doing good, especially when Joel and Ben come back. This team has a lot of talent and a big opportunity to make something after waiting two or three years.”
Rookie guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had 17 points and nine boards for the 76ers, who dressed only nine players and still led by 10 points early in the second quarter before 18 lead changes in the second half.
The Sixers were without center Jahlil Okafor, who missed his third straight game due to right knee soreness, and veteran guard Gerald Henderson, who did not play because of soreness in his left hip.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Jeremy Lin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson each chipped in 11 points.
“I don’t know if it was a combination of the juice or concentration and focus,” Lopez said. “But we were just throwing a lot of balls away and just missing opportunities.”
Philly trailed 96-95 after Lin’s jumper with 5:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The 76ers then went on a 10-5 run paced by Saric and Covington to close out their third straight win over Brooklyn this season.
“The wiggle room this group has is tiny,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “The margin for error is tiny and when you look at links to pair up with our wins, it’s certainly Dario and we need Robert right next to him performing well.”
Richaun Holmes hit a pair of free throws to put the Sixers ahead 97-96 before Lopez’s layup gave the Nets a 98-97 lead with 3:37 left. A nifty layup by Saric again gave the visitors the advantage, 99-98, but Isaiah Whitehead’s 3-pointer in front of the 76ers bench briefly put the Nets ahead, 101-100 with 2:29 left.
An alert Covington picked up the rebound after T.J. McConnell’s failed attempt and started a 6-0 run with 1:26 to go, ending with Holmes’ two free throws.