SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs (14-39) got another career night from rookie Malaki Branham, but couldn't keep the Sixers from scoring in a 137-125 loss, their eighth defeat in a row.
Branham, Josh Richardson and Keita Bates-Diop all started the game due to injuries to other players, and all got to scoring early. Branham started things off with a mid-range jumper out of the pick and roll, then J-Rich drained a three to force a quick timeout. KBD doubled Joel Embiid and ripped a steal, then swished a triple, then eurostepped in on the next possession for a layup.
Keldon Johnson drove for an and-1, then Branham drove for a layup and grabbed a steal. The Sixers started slow, but Embiid and Harden quickly righted the ship. Coach Pop picked up a tech after a missed foul call. Philly went on a quick 8-0 run before a strong spinning drive and finish by Keldon.
Rookie Blake Wesley hasn't gotten much run after a knee injury kept him out for an extended period, but he's back healthy and the Spurs need his shot creation in the backcourt with other players out. He drove and kicked to open up a couple of nice scoring chances, but the shots didn't fall. Then he drove and flipped it up and in. Doug McDermott drove for a floater to put the Spurs back in front. It was tied at 26 after one.
PHOTOS: Spurs fall to 76ers at AT&T Center
KBD followed his own miss with a putback, and McBuckets drove off a handoff for another floater. Richardson found Poeltl on the roll for a finger-roll finish, and Branham ran a pick and roll for a floater.
Branham drove off a screen, hesitated at the elbow and drove all the way in for a layup. Richardson hit Poeltl underneath with a touch pass for an easy score, then Jak got it back to J-Rich for a three. On the other end, the Spurs kept sending the Sixers to the free throw line. Philly hit 16-18 in the first half.
Again Branham drove into the mid-range, created space and drilled the jumper.
Embiid hit a three to put Philly up 13, and Pop called time. San Antonio turned it over on the next two plays, leading to an oop and another dunk.
J-Rich cut, got the ball and passed it to Poeltl for a layup, then got a steal on the other end. Poeltl passed it to McDermott cutting through the middle for a layup and a foul.
Keldon drove right through Embiid for a finger roll and a foul. Richardson floated one home, and Keldon drove for more free throws. San Antonio trailed 73-61 heading to halftime.
KJ Scored inside, then Branham hit another in-between jumper. Poeltl got three baskets in quick succession, Richardson hit one, and Branham got all the way to the rack in transition to cut Philly's lead to single digits.
Stanley Johnson came in and made a layup and a floater, then Keldon dumped it off to Zach Collins for an easy finish. Blake Wesley came in off the bench and made a series of mistakes that helped Philly go on a 12-0 run and build their lead to 21. The Sixers led 106-87 heading to the fourth.
Wesley knocked down an open three, then KB scored on a second chance opportunity.
Stanley Johnson muscled his way in for an and-1. Collins grabbed another offensive board and got it to Branham for three more, and Wesley stepped in for a jumper, but the Sixers just kept scoring.
Domenick Barlow has spent most of his season in Austin, but he checked in late in the game and quickly got open for a dunk. Stanley Johnson knocked in a triple from the corner, then posted and faked his way into an and-1 as the Spurs pulled within a dozen.
Wesley drove and whipped a pass to Johnson, who drove and kicked to Isaiah Roby, who drove for a little push shot. Branham got to the line on a drive in transition.
Doc Rivers brought his starters back in, but Pop elected to let his youngest youngsters finish it out.
Branham again drove to his spot and drilled a jumper, then hit a floater on the next possession to get to a career-high 23 points after setting it at 22 in the previous game. Then he swished a triple to make it 26.
San Antonio fell by a final score of 137-125, their eighth loss in a row. They'll head to Chicago to take on the Bulls.
The Spurs are coming off a 119-109 loss versus the Kings.
Malakai Branham had 22 points and five assists, both career-highs, to lead the team while Keldon Johnson added 18 points. Jakob Poeltl finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Josh Richardson recorded 19 points in the loss.
Jeremy Sochan and Tre Jones exited the game in the first half due to injuries.
"We still compete. The guys don't give up. It's hard to fault them [young Spurs] for a lot because they don't really know a lot, so that's where we try to teach them a little bit," Richardson said. "Hopefully, it's starting to go through a little better but they're competitive."
San Antonio recalled guard Blake Wesley from the Austin Spurs.
LOCKED ON SPURS PREVIEWS SIXERS-SPURS
The Spurs will be in their Statement Edition jerseys today.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. The Sixers have won seven-straight road games.
2. The Sixers are 12-0 on the road when leading after the third period.
3. The Sixers are 17-9 versus teams with a below .500 record this season.
4. The Spurs are 6-4 versus the top-8 Eastern Conference teams this season.
5. The Spurs are allowing opponents to score an average of 120.6 points per game at home.
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