By Sam Bush

For those Sixers fans who think the team needs to trade one of their twin towers, Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, last night’s loss to the Miami Heat at the Wells should be a cautionary tale.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 19 rebounds, Wade scored 21 points and the Heat beat the Sixers 112-102 on Friday night for their fourth straight win.

Ish Smith had 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Robert Covington scored 25 points for the depleted Sixers, who were missing several key players. Philly has lost 11 straight.

Elton Brand (above) made his first appearance this season after coming out of retirement to sign with the Sixers on Jan. 4. He played for the first time since May 20, 2015, when he was on the Atlanta Hawks. The 36-year-old forward came in to start the second quarter and finished with eight points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, showing some nice range with a few spot-up jumpers.

”He’s amazing to me because I didn’t know what to expect,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. ”In a weird way, that was exciting for me to have a touch and taste of Elton Brand, seeing him for the first time, coaching him truly, for the first time in a game. I thought he was excellent.”

Hollis Thompson added 14 points for Philadelphia but shot just 5 for 17 from the field.

The Sixers were playing without top big men Okafor (shin) and Noel (knee). Nick Stauskas and Kendall Marshall were also held out due to illnesses.

Trailing by 10 with 7:30 left in the third quarter, the undermanned Sixers scored the next 13 points to take a 72-69 lead. But Miami responded with a quick 11-1 run of its own to go back ahead 80-73 with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

The Heat never trailed again, opening up a 104-88 lead with 4:37 left after Green drilled two 3-pointers in less than 2 minutes.

The Heat improved to 7-2 since losing Chris Bosh to a blood clot in his calf, in large part due to the emergence of Whiteside. The 7-footer is averaging 18.5 points and 15.5 rebounds per game over the last eight contests after a far more uneven first few months of the season.

Goran Dragic added 15 points and 11 assists for the Heat. Luol Deng scored 13 points and Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire and Gerald Green had 12 points each.

The Heat are 4-0 since signing Johnson after the seven-time All-Star agreed to a buyout with the Brooklyn Nets.


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