76ers try for perfect homestand versus Heat (Feb 14, 2018)
The Philadelphia 76ers, playing their final game before the NBA All-Star break, will be looking to sweep a five-game homestand when they host the slumping Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
The Sixers (29-25), seventh in the Eastern Conference, beat the New York Knicks 108-92 on Monday night, their 10th straight victory in the Wells Fargo Center. They have one more victory than all of last season and their most wins since they went 34-48 in 2012-13.
Dario Saric scored 24 points and backup point guard T.J. McConnell fashioned his first career triple-double against the Knicks -- 10 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds -- while adding a career-high-tying six steals.
He became the first Sixer to record a triple-double off the bench (dating back to 1963-64) and according to basketball-reference.com is the 25th NBA player to accomplish that feat in a reserve role in that time span.
Since starts were first recorded in 1970-71, he also became the fourth substitute to record a triple-double with at least five steals, joining Walt Frazier, John S. Williams and Mickey Johnson.
McConnell told reporters after the game that center Joel Embiid kept reminding him of the pending achievement as the night wore on.
"Joel just wouldn't let it go," McConnell said. "Just after a rebound or an assist he kept telling me and then when I had nine rebounds he was saying, 'Get another one,' and someone went up and blocked out the big guy and it just kind of fell into my hands (with 1:05 left). It was like it was in slow motion."
Embiid, who was on the bench when McConnell collected his final board, led the resultant celebration.
"If we want to go where we want to," Embiid said of the third-year performer in his remarks to reporters, "he'll be one of those reasons."
McConnell went undrafted out of Arizona in 2015, and was one of six point guards the Sixers had on their roster in training camp that season. He has outlasted all of them.
"You really respect him," coach Brett Brown told reporters. "He just plays so hard. He's a wonderful lesson for so many basketball players in relation to what determination, perseverance, toughness can bring you to."
The Heat (30-27) lost for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday night, 115-112 to the Toronto Raptors. Goran Dragic scored 28 points, while James Johnson had 16. Dwyane Wade, playing his second game with Miami since he was reacquired in a trade with Cleveland last week, contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Josh Richardson missed a desperation 3-point shot that would have tied the game at the buzzer, but ultimately Miami could not overcome a 21-4 Raptors run at the end of the third quarter, which gave Toronto a 98-81 lead.
"Our offense got us in trouble, not getting organized, getting sped up by their pressure," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald. "We didn't show the necessary poise to execute with a purpose. They just seemed to score every time down the other way and we weren't able to hold the fort. That's not our formula, to win in a shootout."
Heat forward Kelly Olynyk has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury.
Sixers rookie guard Markelle Fultz, the top pick in the 2017 draft, has missed all but four games this season with what the team has described as a shoulder injury.
Veteran guard Marco Belinelli, signed by Philadelphia on Monday after his contract was bought out by the Atlanta Hawks, is expected to make his debut for the Sixers.