76ers survive late flurry to beat Nuggets 124-122 | Inquirer Sports

76ers survive late flurry to beat Nuggets 124-122

/ 01:50 PM December 31, 2016

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid gestures to the crowd after hitting two key free throws against the Denver Nuggets late in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Denver. Philadelphia won 124-122. AP

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid gestures to the crowd after hitting two key free throws against the Denver Nuggets late in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Denver. Philadelphia won 124-122. AP

DENVER, Colorado—Ersan Ilyasova had a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers survived a flurry in the final seconds to beat the Denver Nuggets 124-122 on Friday night.

Joel Embiid returned after sitting out Thursday’s loss in Utah to score 23 points and hit key free throws down the stretch. The Sixers ended their four-game trip with just their third win away from home.

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Nikola Jokic had a game-high 25 points for the Nuggets, and Emmanuel Mudiay scored 22.

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The Nuggets had a chance to tie it during a frantic ending. After Embiid hit two free throws to put the Sixers up four, Jokic was fouled on a 3-point attempt.

Jokic made the first two free throws and intentionally missed the third. Denver’s Gary Harris grabbed the rebound but missed a short bank shot, and Kenneth Faried’s tip-in try was off as time expired.

The Nuggets pulled within 114-113 with 1:43 left, but Philadelphia’s T.J. McConnell hit his third 3-pointer of the night – matching his total makes for the season. He finished with 17 points and eight assists.

Four straight foul shots by Denver tied it, but Embiid split a pair of free throws to put Philadelphia ahead by one.

He then stripped Jokic on the other end as the center went up for a go-ahead layup and drained two more free throws to put the Sixers ahead 120-117 with 15.9 seconds left.

Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic played 18:33 after not playing in four straight games and averaging just 6:16 in three other games. Nurkic expressed his disappointment after practice Thursday, telling The Denver Post, “I’m not here to sit on the bench; I’m here to play basketball.”

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Coach Michael Malone said before Friday’s game he had no problem with Nurkic’s sentiments.

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“Nurk’s been great,” Malone said. “I understand guys want to be out there. They’re competitive. You want them to be competitive. Just make sure you’re being a good teammate.”

TAGS: Denver Nuggets, NBA, Philadelphia 76ers, Sports

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