NBA wrap: 76ers survives Heat after nearly blowing fourth-quarter lead

In what Philly fans hope is the start of an historic sports weekend, the 76ers staved off a furious Miami comeback attempt on Friday.

Miami Heat center Kelly Olynyk (9) drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Justin Anderson during an NBA match.   -  USA TODAY Sports

In what Philadelphia fans hope is the start of an historic sports weekend for the city, the 76ers staved off a furious Miami comeback attempt to pull out a 103-97 win on Friday at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers took a 26-point lead into the fourth quarter, but as sports fans learn time and time again, rarely is a lead safe. A 30-7 run by the Heat narrowed the gap to 97-92 with little less than two minutes remaining, and the game got even closer than that, when a Wayne Ellington trey made the score 101-97 with 25 seconds left.

Then, a botched in-bounds play by the Sixers kept Miami's hopes alive, but Ben Simmons intercepted Justise Winslow’s ensuing in-bounds pass to pretty much seal the deal.

For the non-gambling inclined, anyway.

Read: LeBron James steps up to lead Cavaliers past Heat

For those who may have had a little something more than pride riding on the game, the Sixers were 4-point favorites in Las Vegas and covered the spread thanks to a Justin Anderson dunk with four seconds on the clock and a missed desperation 28-foot shot attempt by Miami’s Tyler Johnson.

Simmons led a balanced Philly offense with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Joel Embiid and Dario Saric each scored 17, and JJ Redick and Robert Covington added 13 apiece.

The Sixers also benefited from Hassan Whiteside’s early exit. The Miami center played just 18 minutes before leaving the game sick.

With the win, Philly improved to 25-24, maintaining their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Heat dropped to 29-23 and a half-game back of Washington for fourth.


Friday night’s NBA action featured a pair of 40-point performances by guards.

Fresh off his second straight Rookie of the Month honor, the Jazz's Donovan Mitchell dropped 40 points (14 of 19 from the field, 7 of 9 from long range) in Utah’s 129-97 win at Phoenix. He added five rebounds, six assists and two steals to boot. It was Mitchell’s second game with 40 or more points this season, and he’s giving Ben Simmons a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year race.

In Charlotte, Kemba Walker – who’s name continues to be run through the trade-rumor mill – registered 41 points and nine assists in the Hornets’ 133-126 home win over the Pacers. Eight of his points and six of his assists came in the first quarter, when the Bees scored a franchise-record 49(!) points.


Tim Hardaway Jr. shot a woeful 1 of 14 from the field, missing all seven of his 3-point attempts, in the Knicks’ 92-90 loss at Milwaukee. At least he’s been consistent. He went 1 for 10 in New York’s loss at Boston Wednesday.


Here’s a pair of highlight drives from two of the Celtics’ young studs, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who scored 27 and 19, respectively, in Boston’s 119-110 win at home over Atlanta.


Houston Rockets (37-13) at Cleveland Cavaliers (30-20). The Cavaliers have won three of their last four, which doesn’t sound all that impressive on its surface, but in context of how Cleveland has been playing since mid-December, it’s downright scorching. LeBron and Co. won’t have an easy time keeping that momentum going in Saturday night’s nationally-televised game against the Rockets, especially with Kevin Love sidelined with an injured hand.

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