NEW YORK -- There were plenty of times when both teams could have given up. Between 12 ties and 21 lead changes, the Sixers' 106-101 win over the Nets on Tuesday could have gone either way.
In the end, it was the Sixers who dug down to close out the final minute of the game and final game of a five-city road trip to go back to Philadelphia with a victory (see Instant Replay).
The Sixers bounced back from Sunday’s 13-point loss to the Pacers by grinding it out against the Nets, who had been 5-5 in their last 10 games.
"They stayed together," Brett Brown said. "We got down, it was a fistfight for most of the game. We found a way to execute at the end, close it out at the end."
The Sixers trailed 101-100 and held the Nets scoreless in the final 2:29. In a collective effort, they scored their final six points off a layup by Robert Covington and free throws by T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes.
This was a redemption game for Dario Saric, who shot 3 for 15 against the Pacers. The rookie had said he wouldn't let his struggles linger, and he erased them with a team-high 23 points (8 for 15 from the field) and seven rebounds.
Saric locked in on improving by spending his off day in New York City taking care of his body with physical therapy and a massage and staying in his hotel room to prepare.
"It is a reflection of his competitiveness," Brown said. "When he’s down, he finds a way to get back up quite quickly and we need him to."
Brown also pointed to the importance of Covington, in addition to Saric, having a strong night for the team be successful. Covington recorded his 12th double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
"The margin for error is tiny," Brown said. "When you look at links to pair up with our wins, it's certainly Dario and it's a really close second. We need Robert right next to him performing well."
The Sixers toughed out this game with nine players. Jahlil Okafor (left knee soreness), Gerald Henderson (left hip soreness) and Sergio Rodriguez (left hamstring strain) did not play.
The combination of injuries and the foul trouble of Holmes and Shawn Long equated to Brown calling on Tiago Splitter to make his season debut. Splitter had not played since Jan. 30, 2016. He underwent hip surgery and then battled with a right calf injury.
Splitter's eagerness was evident. He scored on his first shot attempt, fought to the ground for a loose ball, and finished the game with two points, three rebounds and a block in 7:23.
"It's a happy day for me today," Splitter said. "I didn't think about [the injury]. I just played, and I think that's the way to do it."
Nik Stauskas slid into the backup point guard role behind McConnell in Rodriguez's absence. He finished with a plus-10 at the one spot.
"It's always been a next-guy-up mentality and everyone's always been ready to play and do their role," Stauskas said. "I think today's just a continuation of that."
The Sixers capped off their nine-day road trip with a victory and are going back to Philadelphia 2-3 on the five-state swing.
"Finally, we win," Saric said. "We deserved this win. We fought from the beginning."