Covington, Saric lead Sixers to 120-112 win over Wizards
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Richaun Holmes was the forgotten big man until now.
Holmes had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks to help the depleted Philadelphia 76ers beat the Washington Wizards 120-112 on Friday night.
Robert Covington had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Dario Saric added 20 points and 11 boards as the Sixers stopped the streaking Wizards, who won 15 of 17 before the All-Star break.
“Holmes is the person people forget about because of the logjam at center,” coach Brett Brown said. “He’s handled it well. He’s a great teammate. He’s competitive.”
On a day the Sixers announced No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons will not play this season, Holmes and other young players stepped up to make up for the absence of star center Joel Embiid and the trades of center Nerlens Noel and forward Ersan Ilyasova. Noel and Ilyasova were dealt before Thursday’s trade deadline and Embiid missed his 12th straight game with a left knee contusion.
Holmes split minutes with Jahlil Okafor, a surprise holdover because he was mentioned in most trade speculation involving Philadelphia.
“I’ve always approached every game like I’m going to play 30 minutes,” Holmes said. “Just got to have the (right) attitude, keep working to perfect my craft and keep trying to prove the doubters wrong.”
Bradley Beal had 40 points and John Wall scored 29 for the Southeast Division-leading Wizards.
“First game back, we had terrible energy, terrible focus,” Beal said.
After taking a 61-49 lead at halftime, the Sixers kept building on it in the third quarter. Holmes slammed one down off an offensive rebound to extend Philadelphia’s lead to 78-62 midway through the third period. His alley-oop slam off Sergio Rodriguez’s pass made it 95-78 later in the quarter.
But the Wizards answered with an 8-0 run to get within 95-86, only to see Philadelphia run off 13 straight points. Nik Stauskas nailed a 3-pointer and Covington’s driving layup made it 107-86.
Washington made a late push to get it close but ran out of time.
“The way we played defense was the reason we got behind,” Wall said. “They got whatever they wanted offensively.”
Wizards: F Bojan Bogdanovic, acquired from the Nets, scored two points in 18 minutes. ... C Marcin Gortat had 11 points and 11 rebounds. ... Wall finished with 14 assists and missed a triple-double by two rebounds.
76ers: Embiid is expected to miss at least three more games. ... C Andrew Bogut, acquired from Dallas, hasn’t joined the team because of a personal matter and Sixers President Bryan Colangelo said the team might buy out his contract to give the veteran an opportunity to sign with a contending team. ... Swingman Justin Anderson, acquired from Dallas, did not play. ... Play was temporarily stopped in the final minute of the first half when some of the lights in the arena were shut off. ... Gerald Henderson scored 20 for Philadelphia. ... Brown said Okafor is on a 20-24 minutes restriction.
Simmons will have to wait until next season to make his NBA debut because his surgically repaired right foot hasn’t healed as quickly as expected. Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal bone during the team’s final training camp scrimmage in October and hasn’t played a game. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Australian was going to play point-forward.
“Ben is heartbroken,” Colangelo said. “The good news is one day he’ll put on a uniform.”
Wizards: Host the Utah Jazz on Sunday.
76ers: Visit the New York Knicks on Saturday night.