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76ers overcome Joel Embiid’s absence to beat Heat

/ 12:43 PM February 22, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, left, and Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade pose after swapping jerseys following an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 106-102. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania—Boban Marjanovic covered up All-Star center Joel Embiid’s absence — at least for a night.

Marjanovic had 19 points and 12 rebounds and made three key free throws in the final 1 1/2 minutes to help Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat 106-102 on Thursday night.

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“He was our bell-ringer tonight,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said.

Tobias Harris had 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and JJ Redick hit a late 3-pointer to help Philadelphia win its first game without Embiid. He’s expected to miss at least a week with a sore left knee.

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Dwyane Wade scored 19 points for Miami, and Dion Waiters added 18.

Miami led 99-98 after Wade’s runner with 1:56 left. Marjanovic made two free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-99. Following Wade’s missed jumper, Redick drained the 3 from the top of the key to make it 103-99 with 1:04 left.

Kelly Olynyk then missed a 3-point attempt, and Marjanovic made the first of two free throws with 38.3 ticks left to put Philadelphia up five.

“He was fantastic,” Redick said about Marjanovic. “He really stepped up for us tonight.”

Perhaps the only way Marjanovic didn’t impersonate Embiid was after the game, as he was unavailable for comment due to treatment — quite unlike the loquacious and quotable Embiid.

It was left to his teammates to speak for his performance.

“He’s a bucket,” Butler said. “All you have to do is throw it to him.”

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Added Harris, “I was surprised he didn’t shoot a 3 tonight because he had it going.”

Marjanovic, starting for Embiid, had 11 points and seven rebounds to help Philadelphia to a 23-13 lead before being lifted with 3:34 left in the first quarter. He returned 3 1/2 minutes into the second, finishing the half with 16 points and eight rebounds while making all six of his field-goal attempts to help the 76ers to a 57-50 halftime lead.

He finished 6 for 7 from the field and 7 for 10 from the free-throw line.

“He’s incredibly skilled for a man of his size,” Brown said.

Wade’s exit

The 37-year-old Wade, playing in his last season, was honored early in the first quarter with a highlight video that included a tribute from 76ers great Allen Iverson. Philadelphia fans gave Wade a standing ovation following the video, and the Miami star pounded his heart and waved back in appreciation.

Wade was touched by the tribute, particularly by Iverson’s inclusion. After Michael Jordan, Iverson was Wade’s favorite player growing up.

“To take myself out of the moment and think 20-something odd years later, Allen Iverson would be the one, his voice would be the one dedicating something to me in this arena, in his city, I couldn’t have written it any sweeter, any better,” Wade said.

Passing the torch

Simmons and Wade exchanged jerseys after the game. Fresh off his first All-Star appearance and a rising star in the league, Simmons reflected on playing against Wade.

“It’s cool to be on the floor with a legend,” Simmons said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”

Simmons, who had 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, said he wore Wade’s brand of sneakers as a kid.

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