The chance was there Wednesday but the Nets just didn’t have enough to get across the finish line victorious.
“The result is the result and that’s what I told the group after the game,” said Jacque Vaughn after the loss. “This group that’s in the locker room right now when we line it up against the opponent expects to win there’s no if, ands, or buts. I don’t mention any other thing but the group in the locker room and this group trying to win.”
Brooklyn went down the wire with the Philadelphia 76ers in what was a very chippy (and long!) game but ultimately fell short, losing 137-133. The Nets have now lost five of their seven total games while playing without Kevin Durant. Ultimately, giving up 75 points at halftime doomed the Nets in what was not one of their best defensive showings from the league’s sixth-best defense since Durant went down.
“It’s tough when you get down like that. They just scored too easy throughout the night,” said Nic Claxton after the game. “The zone (defense) slowed them down a little bit, but they just scored so many points and it’s hard when you get down like that and you exert so much energy coming back. And then they make those timely threes, it’s just draining.”
Seth Curry was the high man for the Nets in his revenge game after getting traded along with Ben Simmons from Philadelphia to Brooklyn a season ago for James Harden. Curry’s 32 points were his highest total as a Net on a season-high 7 made threes, and he was just five points shy of his career-high in scoring.
For the second game in a row, Nic Claxton set a career-high in points with 25 to go with 11 rebounds. Claxton only recorded two total blocks, meaning that his team record 12-game streak of recording at least 3 rejections was finally broken. This was Claxton’s fourth-straight game of dropping at least 20 points.
Ben Simmons, notably playing in his second game in Philadelphia after his unceremonious exit that resulted in a season-long holdout, had an odd performance. He finished 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists but went completely scoreless in the first half.
“That’s where we’re going to get him to where each possession he has to be dealt with on both ends of the floor. Where you feel him on both ends of the floor, and he imposes his will and has an impact on every single possession, which he has the ability to do. That’s where we’re going to get to,” said Vaughn about Simmons. “That’s the challenge and we’re going to continue to expect it from him.”
Philadelphia was led by Joel Embiid with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Former Net Harden helped close the game for the 76ers with eight points in the final four minutes to bring his game totals to 23 points and 7 assists.
Both teams had hot nights from deep, thus the enormous final score, as Brooklyn shot 53.8% from deep while Philadelphia made 47.4% of their threes. However, the Sixers made up for the deficit and then some by getting to the line 36 times and made a vastly impressive 35 of those total attempts. The Nets, meanwhile, went just 14-of-26 from the charity stripe.
Things got off to an exciting start when Embiid got matched up with his former teammate, Simmons, three times in the first three minutes of play. After Philly jumped out to an early 16-8 lead, the Nets’ defensive effort smoothed out the deficit to 21-19. In what was a high-scoring first quarter, three-point shooting (75% for Brooklyn; 66.7% for Philadelphia) from both teams tied the ballgame at 41 each.
The second quarter began much like most of the first: full of scoring. Curry filled up the box score with 13 quick points on 4-of-7 shooting. Jacque Vaughn was forced to call timeout at the 7:17 mark when Tyrese Maxey crossed up Claxton on a stepback three and Montrezl Harrell posted up a mismatch for a layup. Philadelphia was able to build a 10-point that they sustained throughout the rest of the quarter, ending the half ahead 75-65.
Simmons finally got on the board with his first points of the game at the 9:32 mark of the third on a turnaround hook shot. He attacked again on a drive to the rim to draw contact and sunk both free throws. Then he rampaged toward the rim on a gorgeous little flip shot for 6 quick points. Philadelphia began to pull away as Harden and Embiid started cooking—The Beard from the three-point line and Embiid inside the paint—giving the 76ers a 96-79 advantage with just over four minutes remaining. A pair of fancy rim finishes from Claxton and a microwave-scoring stretch from Curry of six points helped Brooklyn close the gap. To cap things off, Simmons pushed the fullcourt in the final second of the game and hit a push shot through contact, though he missed the free throw, to make it a 107-98 game.
Simmons kept the aggression in fourth, again attacking Harrell in transition for a flip shot. Brooklyn was able to whittle down the lead to 6 points, but then Tobias Harris went on a mini 5-0 run by attacking Yuta Watanabe in space to build a 14-point lead. But the Nets weren’t dead yet. Brooklyn did an excellent job mixing its defensive coverages, toggling between zone and man-to-man, to halt Philadelphia’s offense. On the other end, the Nets got a one-dribble three-pointer from Joe Harris off a handoff and a Curry corner three courtesy of an absolutely gorgeous pass from Watanabe.
Curry hit a pull-up jumper at the 4:39 mark to get Philadelphia’s lead down to just 3 and force a timeout from Doc Rivers. Thirty seconds later, he got his 30th point off a pull-up three to tie the ballgame. Philadelphia punched back with a pair of stepback threes from Harden, and then a Harris make in transition gave the Sixers the 6-point lead once more with just over two minutes remaining. A late push from Irving, who dropped in five quick points, gave the Nets a chance, but the 76ers made their free throws for Philadelphia’s sixth-straight win.
“I think we learned a lot about this team tonight: the way they play, the style of play, what they’re gonna down the stretch, just talking notes, that’s it,” said Irving after the game. “We obviously wanted to come away with the win tonight but I’m glad the way we battled.”
From every angle…
Joe Tsai was like a lot of us early in the game when Nic Claxton denied Joel Embiid at the rim, very much a candidate for block of the year.
Didn’t get the W but at least I get to enjoy this one for the rest of the week. #DPOY https://t.co/1sHC6durO4— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) January 26, 2023
For those who may have forgotten, Seth Curry is Doc Rivers son-in-law. After the game, Rivers joked that he was going to smack his daughter’s husband the next time they see each other.
“I wanted to just smack him,” Rivers said of Curry. “I’m not kidding, either. I was going to go over and see my grandkids on Sunday. Now, I’m rethinking that now from that performance. He was great. I mean, he made every shot.”
- The Nets shot 49-76 from the field against the 76ers, good for 64.5%. That is the 3rd-highest FG pct in a loss in NBA history, trailing only a pair of games by the 1981-82 Bulls.
- The Sixers made 35 of 36 foul shots (97.2%) with only James Harden missing from the stripe.
- Nic Claxton has set a career-high in points for the second straight game:
—24 points at Golden State on Sunday
—25 points at Philadelphia tonight
Claxton also shot 11-of-12 overall, moving him up to 73.9% for the season, only three-tenths of a percentage point away from the NBA record, held by Mitch Robinson. He remains far ahead of this year’s No. 2, Rudy Gobert of the Timberwolves, who’s at 67.4% For his career, Claxton is now shooting 68.54%. That’s higher than the all-time career number of 68.46%, the record all-time, held by former teammate DeAndre Jordan. Claxton does not yet have enough attempts to qualify.
However, Claxton’s stretch of games with three or more blocks ended at 12. Claxton finished with two blocks. He still leads the league in blocks, blocks per game and block percentage.
- Seth Curry’s 32 points were his highest as a Net and second highest of his career, having scored 37 points with Dallas vs. Miami on February 28, 2020
- The game was the first game of the season with three Nets scoring 20 or more points without Kevin Durant.
Sean Marks Down Under
According to ESPN Australia, Sean Marks was nowhere near Philadelphia Wednesday night but almost 10,000 miles away in Brisbane, Australia, scouting...
Sean Marks (Brooklyn Nets GM) and Walt Perrin (New York Knicks assistant GM) were among those in attendance for the Bullets vs Breakers game in Brisbane, Australia this evening.— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) January 26, 2023
Uluc reports that he was there to look at Rayan Rupert, an 18-year-old French point guard who plays for the New Zealand Breakers.
9 NBA teams have representatives at tonight’s NZ Breakers vs Brisbane Bullets game; primarily to see Rayan Rupert. Among the teams in attendance, sources told ESPN: Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors.— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) January 26, 2023
Rupert is mocked at anywhere between No. 8 and No. 21 in this year’s draft. The Nets currently hold the Nos. 25 and 57 picks.
Also, former NBA center, Aron Baynes, plays for Brisbane. The 6’10” Baynes, who played last for the Raptors in 2021, collapsed at the Tokyo Olympics while playing for Australia. Currently 36 years old, he was hospitalized for internal bleeding that was putting pressure on his spine. Marks was an assistant coach and Baynes was backup to Tim Duncan on the Spurs 2014 NBA championship team.
Embiid on Simmons, Simmons on Embiid
“Nothing,” said Embiid, when asked about how it felt going up against Simmons for the first time. “Just, like every single night, [I am trying to] just freaking kill whoever is in front of me. My mentality is always about scoring. If I get doubled, make the right pass, but if I get played one-on-one, or I see an opportunity to go score, I’m going to go score.”
Simmons took the high road in speaking of Embiid.
“Fun,” said Simmons on facing Embiid. “I only had to guard him in practice a couple of times, so.”
Embiid on Claxton, Claxton on Embiid
After Nic Claxton blocked Joel Embiid’s shot, the competitive fire took over. The two bigs got in each other’s faces, which led to jawing and, eventually, double technicals were issued.
“Let me see. I blocked his shot. I think he was upset there was no foul call. I said something to him. He told me to repeat it, I repeated it and he walked up on me,” said Claxton explaining his side of the heated exchange with Embiid on Wednesday night. “I don’t know how I got a tech when I say one thing and I’m just sitting there standing. He walks up on me, I get a tech, but I take it so it’s a double tech. It’s just competition. Just having some fun. So that’s how it really is.”
Embiid had a different take.
“He said something he shouldn’t have,” Embiid said. “That’s why when I walked up to his face, I told him to say it to my face again. That’s why he looked away and he didn’t say it again. He knows why. There are not a lot of times when I get in those situations. I’m not going to allow any sort of disrespect. That’s why he couldn’t say it to my face again.”
As Sponge Bob might say...
The Nets head back to Brooklyn on Thursday for the second half of a back-to-back against Detroit. Coverage against the Pistons begins at 7:30 PM EST on the YES Network.
For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head to Liberty Ballers, our Sixers sister site.
- Box Score: Philadelphia 76ers 137, Brooklyn Nets 133 - NBA
- Game Highlights: Philadelphia 76ers 137, Brooklyn Nets 133 (Video) - NBA
- Highlights: Seth Curry vs. 76ers / 32 PTS (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- Jacque Vaughn postgame (Video) - YES Network
- Ben Simmons postgame (Video) - YES Network
- James Harden hits 2 late 3s, 76ers outscore Nets 137-133 - AP
- Sixers fend off Nets in tense matchup, win sixth straight - Reuters
- Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry heroics not enough as Nets fall to 76ers - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Joel Embiid’s D-Generation X celebration didn’t go over well with Kevin Durant - Ted Holmlund - New York Post
- Nets fall to 76ers as three-game win streak ends - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Ben Simmons benched late in Nets’ loss to Sixers - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid finally face each other as opponents - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- Ben Simmons shows flashes of former self against 76ers, but the Nets need consistency - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Ben Simmons struggles in Philadelphia as Nets’ rally falls short against Sixers - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Joel Embiid, Nic Claxton Talk Chippy Exchange - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- Sixers-Nets matches Joel Embiid against Ben Simmons for ‘emotional’ game - Gina Mizell - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Sixers vs. Nets takeaways: Harden’s heroics; Simmons’ benching; Curry’s revenge, and Embiid’s encounter - Keith Pompey - Philadelphia Inquirer