Sixers beat Spurs 97-78, end 13-game skid in San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The Philadelphia 76ers accomplished a series of rare feats against the Spurs.
They won in San Antonio, swept the season series against the five-time NBA champions and made the Spurs look bad while doing so.
Ben Simmons scored 21 points, Joel Embiid had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Philadelphia held the Spurs to a season-low point total in a 97-78 victory Friday night, snapping a 13-game losing streak in San Antonio.
The 76ers celebrated afterward, cheering in the locker room and singing along as music played loudly in the background as they dressed to leave the AT&T Center.
”We’re happy, we won,” Simmons said. ”We’re playing well. We’re playing good team basketball.”
They had reason to celebrate.
The 76ers became just the second Eastern Conference team in three years to sweep a season series from the Spurs, joining the Pacers, who completed the feat Sunday.
San Antonio had not lost at home to Philadelphia since 2004, but the 76ers didn’t have a healthy Embiid and Simmons before. The 76ers opened a double-digit lead they would never relinquish with 1:35 left in the first quarter, extending the lead to as many as 25 points.
”The old Sixers, the old Sixers,” Simmons said when asked about the losing streak. ”We’ve got to come in with a new mentality and we’ve got to leave the past and play the way we play.”
Simmons added seven assists and five rebounds.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points for San Antonio, which lost for just the fourth time at home this season.
The Spurs set season lows for total points and points in any half, and matched their season worst in the first quarter.
”If I was a San Antonio fan tonight, I’d ask for my money back,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
San Antonio’s only lead was 5-3 on Pau Gasol’s dunk three minutes into the game.
Gasol finished with 11 points and Dejounte Murray had 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Sixers used their athleticism and length aggressively, applying full-court pressure early to disrupt the Spurs’ offense and quickly rotating their defenders.
”Philadelphia was great. They were physical. Brett’s got them really executing well and playing with confidence and they did it at both ends of the floor,” Popovich said, referring to coach Brett Brown, his former assistant.
”Their defense got us out of everything and our defense wasn’t great. Their speed got us. We didn’t get back in transition. So, I thought they did a great job.”
After matching a season low for points in the first quarter with 13, the Spurs had a season-worst 31 points in the half. San Antonio was 0 for 10 on 3s and shot 35 percent overall in the first 24 minutes.
”We played really well defensively,” Embiid said. ”We were physical, we got the stops we needed and on offense we took care of the ball.”
The Spurs finished 3 for 24 on 3s and shot 40 percent overall. It was their worst 3-point outing since going 1 for 12 against Chicago on Oct. 21.
”They outcompeted us on both ends,” Murray said. ”They were running, getting what they want. They knew what we were doing on a lot of stuff. We just had a bad night.”
76ers: The 76ers’ last victory in San Antonio was Jan. 3, 2004. Derrick Coleman had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead Philadelphia to an 83-77 victory, which snapped the Spurs’ 13-game winning streak and was also their fourth home loss at the time. … G Jerryd Bayless was a late scratch from the lineup with a sore left wrist. … The starting lineup of Embiid, Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is 3-1 collectively.
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard was not available to play as he continues to rehabilitate from right quadriceps tendinopathy, but was in uniform on the bench for the first time since returning to the injured list. … Aldridge grabbed his 7,000th career rebound, becoming the only player in the NBA with 16,000-plus points and 7,000-plus rebounds since he entered the league in 2006. .. The Spurs’ previous low was 34 points in the first half against Orlando on Oct. 27. San Antonio matched its season low of 13 points in the first quarter that was set Dec. 30 at Detroit. … Gasol became the 34th player in NBA history to play 40,000 career minutes.
PRAYERS FOR BOOGIE
Embiid was shocked to learn New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins had suffered a left Achilles tendon injury during the fourth quarter against Houston on Friday.
”Oh my God,” said Embiid, who has battled injuries throughout his career. ”Injuries suck. I went through it my first two years and then my third year I got injured again. All I can say is I’m going to pray for him. I’m a firm believer in God and I pray a lot, so, he’s definitely going to be in my prayers. I think right now he’s the best big man in the league offensively. Hopefully he gets back on the court pretty soon.”
Patty Mills, who is generously listed at 6 feet, blocked 7-footer Embiid from behind in the third quarter, drawing loud gasps from the crowd. It was Mills’ seventh block this season.
76ers: Visit Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
Spurs: Host Sacramento on Sunday night.