Sixers-Nets observations, 'best' and 'worst' awards: Joel Embiid, Robert Covington bounce back

76ers Nets Basketball
Sixers forward Dario Saric looks to get past the defense of Nets forward Dante Cunningham (44) during the first half.

NEW YORK — Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 120-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night at the Barclays Center.

Five observations

— The Sixers remind me of that bully we all knew in elementary school. They look like one of the Eastern Conference’s elite squads when facing a struggling team such as the Nets on the road. However, they have a hard time in road games against teams locked in a playoff battle with them.

  While it was against the Nets, Joel Embiid looked as if he’s getting over his slump. The all-star center played down low for the most part instead of camping out on the perimeter and scored 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in just 26 minutes, 28 seconds.

—  This was the type of rest game the Sixers needed. None of their five starters played more than 28:43, and 11 Sixers got minutes. Trying to secure a top-four playoff seed, the Sixers can’t afford to hold players out of entire games. So it was good to get a big lead and take them out.

This was a solid bounce-back game for Robert Covington. The small forward had 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting, including 3 for 7 on three-pointers — one game after getting three points on 0-for-10 shooting.  He looked very confident and relaxed against the Nets.

Sixers fans travel well and are vocal. At times, the Barclays Center had the feel of a neutral site and not the Nets’ home arena. Sixers fans chanted “Trust the Process” and “E-A-G-L-E-S”  throughout the game. But this isn’t an isolated thing, as Sixers fans have been visible and vocal all season on the road.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

— Best performance: As dominant as Embiid was, I had to give this to Dario Saric. The Sixers power forward scored 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting. He also had two blocks to go with one steal in just 24:07.

— Worst performance: This was a tough one, because several Nets struggled. But this award goes to Joe Harris. The Brooklyn reserve guard  finished with five points on 1-for-5 shooting. He also graded out at minus-15.

— Best defensive performance: Sixers reserve point guard T.J. McConnell was a pest, getting a game-high four steals.

— Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ shooting 61.1 percent (11 for 18) from the foul line.

— Best statistic: I had to give this to the Sixers’ yielding only nine points on 10 turnovers. This was the first time all season that they yielded single-digit points via turnovers.

— Worst of the worst: This goes to the Nets’ effort in the fourth quarter. They put up just 14 points and hit only 3 of 16 shots (18.8 percent). It was as if they stopped caring, knowing the game was out of hand.