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San Antonio vs. Philadelphia, Final Score: Sixers weather fourth quarter run to fend off Spurs 115-109

Philadelphia grabbed and held onto a lead it would not relinquish through the final buzzer

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at San Antonio Spurs
Despite the late run by Vassell and the Spurs backcourt, there weren’t enough shots made to overcome the Sixers
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia wrested the advantage away from San Antonio midway through the first and held on through the finish line to win its 17th road game 115-109. San Antonio concluded a disappointing homestand with this loss to Philadelphia and was done in early by the villainous duo of untimely shooting droughts (10 of 30 from three) and generous transition defense and, at the end, by the brilliance of the Sixers’ stars.

MVP candidate Joel Embiiid (38 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists) and Tobias Harris (18 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists) ably held off a fourth quarter comeback by the Spurs. The Sixers, who were down Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Danny Green, received timely shooting from wings Tyrese Maxey (18 points and 6 asissts) and Furkan Korkmaz (17 points and 4 rebounds). Philadelphia retained an impressive 17-9 road record - good enough for fifth-best in the league.

Jakob Poeltl gave the Spurs another Herculean effort (25 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks), which was bolstered by almost yet another triple-double by Dejounte Murray (19 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists). Devin Vassell (15 points and 4 rebounds) and Lonnie Walker IV (14 points) aided in the late Spurs run to nearly overcome the Sixers. With the tough loss, San Antonio (17-30) fell further away from the cluster of teams trying to make it into the play-in zone in the Western Conference.

Observations

  • A ‘+/-’ illustration rarely seen in a halftime box score - and an example of the early chokehold the Sixers had - all Philadelphia players registered with “+” numbers and every Spur checked in negativo.
  • If Pop doesn’t give Danny Green as many opportunities to stick with the big club, would he have had anywhere near the career he has?
  • After Charlie Brown, Jr,, netted an and-1 at the rim in the first half, Sean Elliott quipped “Good grief.
  • Is Andre Drummond’s career destined to be like other bigs who end up on tons of league rosters?
  • On Saturday afternoon, NBA TV re-played the January 2005 high-scoring affair between the Spurs and Suns where Manu Ginobili scored 48 in the comeback overtime win. Long-haired Manu was truly a sight to behold.
  • Murray’s Magic: That right to left move into a jumpshot is as close to automatic as anything could be.
  • Sequence of the Game 1A: White, third in the league in drawing charges, drew one against Tyrese Maxey and nailed a straightaway three late in the opening half.
  • Sequence of the Game 1B: Late in the third period, Johnson, after getting some hard-earned free throws at one end, redirected a Korkmaz shot attempt at the other end.
  • Sequence of the Game 1C: After Poeltl laid in a great pocket pass from Johnson midway through the fourth, he sent back a weak Embiid hook down at the other end.
  • Neither team could find success from distance at the start - having to earn their buckets from up close. The teams traded blows before Philadelphia claimed an early advantage with Harris and Furkan Korkmaz’s efforts. San Antonio took the lead briefly on a Johnson hook in transition over Embiid, but the visitors made just enough buckets to stay ahead A mostly turnover-free, yet frigid frame for the Spurs concluded with Philly being up 29-23.
  • Countless shots continued to dribble away from the lid or lifelessly clanged off the rim until White willed home a runner for the Spurs. Philadelphia feasted in the lane with an array of lobs and tips for Embiid and Drummond and pushed it out to double-digits. Back-to-back buckets by Poeltl and then by Vassell were offset by Embiid’s solo brilliance. In a play that resembled the half’s sluggishness, White’s pass was intercepted by a streaking Brown, Jr., and he dunked it home to beat the buzzer and make it 59-47 Sixers.
  • A string of scores by Poeltl, Johnson, and Murray coming out of the break halved the deficit. for San Antonio. Embiid hacked Doug McDermott on his paint attempt and received free throws at the other end. Embiid decimated whoever was in front of him to help Philadelphia extend its upper hand. A mini-run by the Spurs capped by a Vassell pull-up brought them to within 77-86.
  • Murray and Vassell mounted a sustained effort to claw into the Sixers’ lead to start the fourth. While Embiid rested, Harris, then Maxey took over the scoring responsibility. A rare Pop challenge of a loose-ball foul on Poeltl was successful, but Maxey hit a three after the ensuing jumpball. San Antonio drew Philly into the foul penalty with over seven minutes left. A Poeltl scoop off a Johnson dish brought the Spurs within five. Once Embiid returned to action, he put home a series of baskets in succession.
  • In the closing minutes, the second of Lonnie Walker IV’s threes in the stanza cut it to five. A double-teamed Embiid found a cutting Korkmaz for an assist. A Walker IV floater brought San Antonio to within four. White then forced a turnover on Maxey out of the timeout, and Murray scooped up the ball and converted at the other end to get San Antonio within two. Embiid confidently hit both of his free throws. Philadelphia defended the next Spur possession expertly and iced the game away with free throws.

For the 76ers fan’s perspective, visit Liberty Ballers.

San Antonio makes an I-10 trip east to meet Christian Wood and the Houston Rockets Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM CT.