Okafor, Noel lead 76ers past Nets
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Jahlil Okafor had 22 points and 17 rebounds and Nerlens Noel added 18 points, including a key dunk late in the fourth quarter, to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 103-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.
Rookie T.J. McConnell, filling in for injured point guard Ish Smith, tied his career-high with 17 points to go with six assists for the 76ers, who earned their eighth win of the season while snapping a four-game losing streak.
Thaddeus Young scored all 22 of his points after halftime for Brooklyn, which was trying to win consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 10. Young added 10 rebounds and Brook Lopez had 17 points for the Nets. Markel Brown, who entered averaging just 2.5 per game, was perfect from the field while setting a season-high with 15 points for the Nets. Brown made all five of his shots, including three 3-pointers.
The Nets trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half and were down 69-64 entering the fourth quarter. Brown's third 3-pointer of the contest with 6:59 remaining gave Brooklyn its biggest lead, 86-81. But the 76ers scored eight of the next 10 and went back up on Hollis Thompson's 3 from the left wing that made it 89-88 with 4:44 left. Philadelphia's lead was still one point once when Robert Covington drained a 3-pointer with 1:16 to play that made it 97-96. Both teams missed field goals on ensuing possessions before McConnell's steal with 30 seconds left led to Noel's dunk with 21.3 ticks remaining that made it 99-96 and was enough for Philadelphia to earn their seventh win in the last 20 games.
Brooklyn dropped to 4-19 on the road.
Smith injured his ankle while scoring 22 points in Friday's 106-94 loss at Washington. His presence the last 19 games has been a big boost to the 76ers, who are 6-13 with him in the lineup after going 1-30 prior to acquiring him from New Orleans in late December. Philadelphia ranked 26th in the league in assists without Smith, but the 76ers were 8th in the league over the 19 games with Smith.
The Nets set a season-high for points in Friday's 128-119 home win over the Kings, but they mustered just 12 points while sleepwalking through the first quarter. Brooklyn turned the ball over 11 times and missed 12 of 17 shots while falling behind 24-12 after one. Philadelphia's lead grew to as many as 15 points early in the second quarter before the Nets responded with 27 of the final 37 points of the quarter to enter halftime down 41-39.
After setting a season-high with 18 3-pointers against Sacramento on Friday, the Nets went 5-for-15 from the arc against Philadelphia.
The last time the Nets had a winning streak was Dec. 8 and Dec. 10 when they defeated Houston and the 76ers, respectively.
Nets: Interim coach Tony Brown said prior to the game that there is no firm date set yet for the debut of Chris McCullough. The rookie was active for the second straight game on Saturday and could play as early as Monday at home against the Nuggets. ... The loss snapped Brooklyn's three-game road winning streak against the 76ers.
76ers: Philadelphia honored the late Darryl Dawkins with video tributes, a halftime interview with former teammates World B. Free and Bobby Jones and posters to the first 15,000 fans. Dawkins played the first seven seasons of his 14-year career with the 76ers, who drafted him fifth in 1975. ... F Richaun Holmes (sprained right ankle) missed his second straight game. ... The 76ers had three three-second violations.
Nets: Host Denver on Monday.
76ers: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.