NBA: Embiid, Covington lift 76ers over Nets for 10th win
NEW YORK, United States — Joel Embiid’s 20 points and Robert Covington’s gritty performance lifted the Philadelphia 76ers to a 105-95 NBA victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, their 10th win of the season matching their total of last year.
Cameroonian rookie Embiid, still on restricted playing time after missing all of the past two seasons in the wake of two foot surgeries, connected on eight of 14 shots from the floor.
He scored 12 of his points after halftime, when the 76ers out-scored the Nets 59-38.
Embiid finished off his 14th 20-point game by hitting two free throws, with Sixers fans chanting “Trust the Process” in reference to the team’s rebuilding mantra.
Embiid is finally a key part of that overhaul process. He was drafted third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft but was promptly lost to injury.
Last season, the 76ers were an abysmal 10-72, barely avoiding the all-time worst full-season record of 9-73 set by the 1972-73 Sixers.
Their plans for a revival this season took a hit when Australian Ben Simmons, top pick in last June’s draft, suffered a foot injury that has kept him off the floor so far this season.
Nevertheless, the Sixers have received a boost from Embiid and fellow rookie Dario Saric of Croatia, who scored 18 points on Sunday as Philadelphia won for the third time in four games.
Covington shook off not one but two pokes in the eye and a bloodied lip to score 15 points, and Ersan Ilyasova chipped in 14 points as Philadelphia won despite shooting just 39.4 percent.
“It’s just a matter of continuing to play no matter what,” Covington said. “You’re going to get bumps and bruises. It’s just a matter of your mental toughness to keep going no matter what.
“I’m not going to leave my teammates because I’m hurting,” added Covington, who drained an open three-pointer with 1:57 remaining to give the 76ers a 101-87 lead.
“He has been playing great for us and people always think to look at the stat sheet instead of actually looking at the game, but he’s really important to us especially defensively as far as deflections and guarding all the team’s best players,” Embiid said of Covington. “Just having him on the team is great.”
The 76ers rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit and scored 13 straight down the stretch to seal the victory.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 26 points, but scored only eight after halftime.
“It’s the city of Philadelphia and we need that grit,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown, who estimated Covington had 13 deflections to go along with five steals and 11 rebounds. “We need to build it through defense and that toughness.” CBB