Sixers beat shorthanded Cavaliers

This was as good an opportunity as any for the 76ers to get a victory at home.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came to town minus three injured starters in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao. Then the Cavs sat Dion Waiters, their fourth-leading scorer, while his trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder went through.

Those four players combined to average 65.9 points for the Cavs. The Sixers took full advantage, escaping with a 95-92 victory Monday night before 17,771 delighted fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

The victory was the Sixers' first at home this season after 14 straight losses, and it helped pull them out of last place in the Atlantic Division.

Some might argue that this victory comes with an asterisk.

"We are not apologetic with this win at all," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "I think it is unfair when you start weighing up [resumes]. . . . If we are about to compare resumes and years of experience and those types of things, accolades, have a look at my group: Young guys that don't know what they don't know and just came out and played.

"I'm proud of our team."

The Sixers, who have five undrafted players, battled back from a 17-point deficit and took a 93-92 lead on Tony Wroten's layup with 9.9 seconds left.

On the Cavs' ensuing possession, Matthew Dellavedova missed a layup and Kevin Love misfired on the putback with 2.1 seconds left. Robert Covington grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Joe Harris with 0.3 seconds remaining. Love had 28 points and 19 rebounds.

The Sixers small forward made a pair of foul shots to give his squad the three-point cushion.

The win improved the Sixers to 5-28 and snapped their five-game losing streak. Cleveland (19-16) has lost five of its last six games.

Wroten finished with a team-high 20 points and eight assists. The backup point guard scored nine of the Sixers' final 13 points.

He said the play on his go-ahead basket was drawn up for starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

"Mike came to me at the last minute and switched it up a little bit," Wroten said. "That's the kind of pressure I want. I missed the free throw before that. So it was in the back of my mind. I can't be the reason that we lose."

Carter-Williams added 18 points and 13 assists after missing Saturday's road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a sore right shoulder.

Like the Cavs, the Sixers were shorthanded.

Power forward Luc Mbah a Moute was sidelined with turf toe in his left foot. Small forward Hollis Thompson missed his eighth consecutive game with an upper respiratory infection. The Sixers appear to be unsure about Thompson's return.

"Hollis worries us because he has been out for what seems an eternity right now," Brown said of the 6-foot-8 player, who is down to 195 pounds. " He's lost 20 pounds right now. Think of that. . . . The reality of how soon he can come back and how you can expedite that is dangerous."

The Sixers plan to bring him along slowly. That might involve sending him down the Delaware 87ers, their NBA Development League team.

"When you don't have him, you miss his ability to shoot," Brown said. "You are heavily, heavily challenged making shots, perimeter shots, threes especially and we miss that."

The Cavs really missed James, Irving, Varejao and Waiters

Varejao, a 6-11 center, is done for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. James, a four-time MVP, is sidelined with knee and back strains. Irving, an all-star point guard, was out with tightness in his back.

Waiters was pulled off the court shortly after he was introduced as a starter before the game.

 


kpompey@phillynews.com