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Sixers start 2018 with win over Spurs

The Philadelphia 76ers (18-19) rang in the New Year with a 112-106 win at home against the San Antonio Spurs (26-13). The win snapped a 12-game losing streak against the Spurs giving the Sixers their first win against them since February 11, 2011. It was also Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown’s first win over his former mentor Gregg Popovich.

Prior to the game, Joel Embiid was listed as out with a sprained hand suffered in the previous game against Phoenix. The Spurs announced Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker would sit after playing the Knicks the night before. Embiid’s status changed twenty minutes before the game and he was back in the starting lineup.

The Sixers took advantage of the Spurs resting their star players early on. Embiid’s hand didn’t seem to bother him posting six points, six rebounds, three assists and four blocks in the first quarter. The Sixers looked impressive in the second quarter, sharing the ball and playing aggressive. Turnovers have been a struggle throughout the season but only committing five was an improvement.

Embiid got the home crowd fired up to start the second half, assisting on a Ben Simmons slam. Unfortunately, the turnover issues allowed San Antonio to cut what was once a double-digit lead down to four. San Antonio fought back in the fourth quarter to tie the game and eventually take the lead thanks to a three by Patty Mills. It would be the first lead by the Spurs since early in the first quarter.

Popovich employed the Hack-A-Ben strategy as Simmons is known to struggle at the free-throw line ,but Simmons responded hitting three-of-four retaking the lead. J.J. Redick hit a clutch shot to put the Sixers up by four with under a minute remaining. He finished with 20 points, four assists and two rebounds. Following a turnover from the Spurs, Robert Covington found Simmons cutting to the basket for a dunk to extend the lead further. Dario Saric sealed the deal with two free-throws giving the Sixers their first win of 2018. Simmons led the team with 26 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He shot well from the free-throw line going 10-of-15 for the night. Embiid contributed 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

The 76ers look to extend their win streak to four at home on Friday against the Detroit Pistons (20-16).

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