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Miami Heat winning streak ends with loss to Philadelphia 76ers

By The Sports Xchange
Miami Heat winning streak ends with loss to Philadelphia 76ers
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra reacts to his team's play against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half of their NBA game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, 13 January 2017. EPA/Tannen Maury

PHILADELPHIA -- Included in the 13-game winning streak the Miami Heat carried into Saturday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers was a 23-point rout of Philadelphia last Saturday in Miami.

The 76ers kept that in mind for the rematch.

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Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric scored 19 points each as the Sixers snapped the Heat's streak, 117-109.

"It definitely carried over," Covington said of the earlier game, adding that the victory "just shows the greatness of us, of how we play."

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The Sixers, playing without injured center Joel Embiid, improved to 20-34, their highest victory total since they went 34-48 in 2012-13.

"They got the better of us up in Miami," Covington said, "but we came back and reevaluated everything and we came out and executed our game plan."

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Ersan Ilyasova and Gerald Henderson contributed 14 each for Philadelphia, which won its second straight. T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas both finished with 11, and McConnell chipped in 10 assists.

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The Sixers also forced 20 turnovers, and limited Miami center Hassan Whiteside to 12 points. He generated 30 points and 20 rebounds in last Saturday's game.

"I wanted to assert myself and not really let him be the factor he's capable of," said Noel, who had four steals.

Sixers coach Brett Brown called last week's loss to the Heat "distasteful," and was especially upset with his club's defensive effort.

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He saw improvement Saturday, noting that while Whiteside had 19 rebounds, just two came at the offensive end.

The Sixers were better elsewhere, too.

"I thought we did a far better job as a team of guarding those really difficult perimeter players," Brown said.

Goran Dragic poured in 30 points to pace the Heat, whose winning streak was the longest in the NBA this season. It was also the longest streak in league history by a team under .500 throughout the entire run.

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James Johnson matched his day-old season high of 26 for Miami, Tyler Johnson added 17 and Wayne Ellington scored 16.

Philadelphia led throughout the second half, and was up 110-97 with 3:04 left in the game. The Heat then reeled off nine of the next 10 points, the last of those on Dragic's layup with 35.4 seconds left, to cut the gap to 111-106.

Noel ended the run by dunking off an alley-oop from McConnell. Henderson added four free throws in the final 21.4 seconds.

Embiid, the Sixers' top scorer and rebounder, sat out for the ninth straight game and the 12th time in 13. General manager Bryan Colangelo said before the game that Embiid suffered a bone bruise and "very minor meniscal tear" of the left knee when he landed awkwardly after a dunk against Portland on Jan. 20.

The Sixers had previously called Embiid's injury a contusion.

Colangelo said it is "more than likely we'll hold him back until the end of the All-Star break," meaning Embiid will probably miss Monday's game in Charlotte and Wednesday's game in Boston, as well as his planned appearances in the Rising Stars Challenge and the skills competition on All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

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Ilyasova scored 12 points and Noel added 10 in the first half, which ended with the Sixers holding a 54-48 lead.

Dragic had 13 and Whiteside collected 10 points and 11 rebounds for Miami.

Noel contributed a three-point play, a steal and dunk and a block of Whiteside in the opening minutes of the third quarter, when Philadelphia moved to a 59-48 lead.

The Sixers were still up by 11 in the closing seconds of the period but James Johnson buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the gap to 84-76 entering the final period.

NOTES: Sixers C Jahlil Okafor did not play. "There were trade rumors before the game," coach Brett Brown said. "I thought it was best not to complicate things and play Jahlil." ... Philadelphia general manager Bryan Colangelo said it was "a little bit" disappointing that injured C Joel Embiid elected to dance onstage at Friday's Meek Mill concert, "given the circumstances and given the potential reaction." ... Brown said he had a "private conversation" with Embiid about his actions at the concert and elected not to share the specifics. ... Heat G Dion Waiters missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... The Sixers recalled G Chasson Randle from Delaware of the NBA Development League.

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