NEW YORK --Joel Embiid was happy to see that teammate Jimmy Butler came to his defense after a melee broke out in the third quarter of the Sixers’ 112-108 win on Saturday over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.
The Sixers lead the opening-round series, 3-1, and can close it out in Game 5 at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
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The incident started after Embiid knocked Jarrett Allen to the court on a layup attempt and received a Flagrant 1 foul. Jared Dudley then rammed into Embiid. Butler shoved Dudley in the back under the basket, and it took a while for the teams to be separated.
After order was restored, Butler and Dudley were ejected.
Allen made the two free throws from the flagrant foul, which increased the Nets’ lead to 69-61 with 7 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I for sure fed off that,” Embiid said of Butler’s response. “The fact that he had my back, I will pay the fine and it was great to see.”
An NBA spokesperson said that fines could be handed down by Sunday.
The mood was more lighthearted when Butler and Embiid talked about the situation at the postgame news conference.
“I am just there to protect my big fella,” said Butler, who had 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists before his departure.
Butler was asked how he planned on protecting Embiid. “If somebody runs up on him, I will push them again,” he said.
Reporters laughed, but Butler seemed serious.
The Nets’ Joe Harris led the NBA during the regular season in three-point field goal percentage (.474). He started out this series on fire, going 3-for-4 in the first quarter of the Nets’ 111-102 win in Game 1.
Since that opening quarter, the 6-foot-6 swingman has missed his last 12 three-point attempts, including all six Saturday. Limiting Harris is one of the reasons the Sixers hold their 3-1 series edge.
“It’s tough chasing him and they run a lot of stuff for him when he is in the game,” said JJ Redick, who has covered him the most for the Sixers.
Redick said the Sixers have tried to play a physical style against Harris to throw him off his game.
“To be honest, I think he got three or four good looks tonight, surprisingly missed them, so we have to clean that up.”
During his pregame news conference, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson showed some annoyance when asked for his starting lineup.
Atkinson was annoyed not at the question, but at the process.
“We will let you know later,” he said about 75 minutes before the game. “We find out their starting lineup with like five minutes to go [before the game]. Somehow we have to figure that out as a media league.”
The Sixers have had plenty of uncertainty about their lineup with Embiid suffering from left knee tendinitis. Embiid was again a game-time-decision. He had been listed as doubtful.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said taking a long time to reveal the lineup wasn’t about gamesmanship. He said that waiting might offer a tactical advantage, “but it is certainly not calculated.”