Instant Replay: Bucks 94, Sixers 92

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Instant Replay: Bucks 94, Sixers 92

BOX SCORE

MILWAUKEE -- The phrase “must-win” is used too often in sports, but if the Sixers wanted to make a run at the playoffs in the second half of the season, a win on Wednesday would go a long way toward that goal.

The Bucks came into the contest with two wins over the Sixers already this season. Milwaukee also sits in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and had a three-game lead over the Sixers coming into this game.

The Sixers could not cut into that margin as they gave up a lead in the fourth quarter of a 94-92 loss. The Bucks won the season series with one more game to play between the two teams.

Turning point
At the 9:19 mark of the fourth quarter, the Bucks took their first lead of the game at 78-77. Milwaukee was persistent. The Bucks trailed by 10 points after one quarter of play, seven at the half and three points heading into the final 12 minutes.

Follow the leader
Brandon Jennings scored 12 third-quarter points before finishing with 21. Jennings was scoreless in the fourth quarter. His backcourt running mate, Monta Ellis, led all scorers with 27.

Evan Turner led the Sixers with 20 points on 19 shots. Spencer Hawes had 19 points and nine rebounds.

Nick Young scored 12 points in the first quarter on 4 of 4 shooting from the field, including a couple three-pointers. However, he scored just two points the rest of the way.

Jrue Holiday headed into his first All-Star Game with a 16-point, 12-assist game.

Stat-egic
Milwaukee shoots 43 percent from the field and 34 from three-point range for the season. At the half, the Bucks were shooting 36 percent from the floor and were just 2 of 8 from three.

In the third quarter, the Bucks shot 55 percent to close within three points and then proceeded to hold the Sixers to 6-of-23 shooting in the fourth quarter.

Take a bow
Former Sixers center Samuel Dalembert 20 has not played much this season when head coach Scott Skiles was in charge. With Skiles now out and Larry Sanders sidelined the last four games with a back injury, the 31-year old Dalembert has filled in nicely.

In the four games prior to Wednesday, Dalembert was averaging 16.5 points and 10 rebounds.

Against his former team, Dalembert scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

What’s next?
The Sixers will have four days to rejuvenate their bodies and minds. They have been together since training camp commenced on Oct. 1, which is 135 days of work and disappointment given they sit in ninth place in the East.

When the Sixers return for a Monday night practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, they will have 31 games to play in the regular season beginning at Minnesota on Feb. 20. They will then return home to face the champion Miami Heat on Feb. 23.

Instant Replay: Sixers 99, Pelicans 88

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Associated Press

Instant Replay: Sixers 99, Pelicans 88

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- The Sixers avoided setting a franchise mark of consecutive road losses with a 99-88 win over the Pelicans in New Orleans.

Prior to Thursday’s victory, the Sixers had lost 23 straight away from Philadelphia. Their last road win was Jan. 20, 2016 against the Magic. They also had dropped 23 consecutive games on the road from March 29 - Dec. 23, 2015. 

The Sixers held Anthony Davis, the NBA’s leading scorer, to 26 points, below his season average of 31.6. They were led by Ersan Ilyasova, who dropped 23 points again after scoring 23 in the Sixers’ last game against the Grizzlies. 

Third-quarter transformation
The Sixers trailed the Pelicans 57-52 at halftime and struck back defensively in the third. They held the Pelicans to 5 for 25 shooting from the field and 2 for 12 from three in the quarter. The Sixers outscored the Pelicans 19-12 in the quarter to regain the lead. 

Inside the box score
• Davis recorded a 26-point, 11-rebound double-double. He shot 8 for 21 from the field, 0 for 2 from three and 10 for 12 from the line. 

• Ilyasova scored 23 points (9 for 16 from the field, 2 for 6 from three, 3 for 4 from the line), eight rebounds and four assists.

• Joel Embiid contributed 14 points (5 for 15 from the field, 0 for 5 from three, 4 for 5 from the line), seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and three steals in 27 minutes.

• Sergio Rodriguez gave a solid 16 points (6 for 13 from the field, 4 for 8 from three) and eight dimes.

• Nik Stauskas and Dario Saric combined for 27 points off the bench.

• St. Joe’s alum Langston Galloway dropped 19 points (8 for 16 from the field, 3 for 6 from long range) off the Pelicans’ bench.

Trusting the process in New Orleans
It follows Embiid on the road. Fans chanted “trust the process” while he was at the free throw line. The volume was more quiet than at the Wells Fargo Center, but the effort was there nonetheless. 

Injury updates
The Sixers were without Jahlil Okafor, who remained in Philadelphia battling gastroenteritis. Jerryd Bayless also missed the trip because of left wrist soreness. Former Sixer Jrue Holiday sat out with turf toe. 

Up next
The Sixers will return home to Philadelphia to get in some practice before heading back on the road. They will play the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular-season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."