Entering Wednesday night’s main-event bout between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets, much of the discourse was centered on who exactly would be taking the court for the latter squad. James Harden had already been ruled out for Brooklyn, but the availability of both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving was still up in the air.
Irving ultimately made his return to the hardwood for Nets, dropping a cool 37 points along the way.
However, the Sixers still won the game 123-117. In doing so, Philly locked up both the season series and the tiebreaker in the event that the East rivals find themselves with the same record at season’s end
Durant, meanwhile, was held out by the Nets, who were on the wrong end of a back-to-back set. In spite of the fact that he spent the night on Brooklyn’s bench in street clothes, though, the two-time NBA Finals MVP didn’t escape Philly without getting an earful from the Sixers faithful.
Much to his chagrin — or confusion — he ended up being the object of their ire as the home team battled to stave off a late-game comeback.
Never mind the fact that he had absolutely nothing to do with it.
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Sixers Fans Chant “KD Sucks” During Game’s Waning Moments
As the game between the conference’s two best teams tipped off, it was clear that the dearth of Nets stars participating had essentially killed what should have been a marquee matchup. In addition to Harden and Durant, Brooklyn was also without the services of former All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin.
Nevertheless, the Sixers found themselves in a full-on battle in the game’s waning moments.
After Philly led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter, it was somehow just a one-possession game at 118-115 with just over a minute remaining in the contest. As one might expect, the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center grew more restless with each bucket made during the Nets’ comeback bid.
But instead of coming down on Irving or, well… anybody else that actually played a part in the comeback, it was KD that was the recipient of their scorn.
When Sixers star Joel Embiid stepped to the line at the 1:04 mark after getting fouled by Alize Johnson, the Philly crowd got live. But instead of leading with their customary “MVP!” chant, they opted instead to throw shade at Durant:
On the sidelines, Durant took notice of the chant and was left with little recourse but to shrug in disbelief. Even his teammates appeared to be perplexed by the development.
Embiid had his best game since returning from a left knee bone bruise earlier this month. In just 33 minutes of play, the MVP candidate scored a game-high 39 points and added 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. He also hit three three-point shots.
Shake Milton had a big game off the bench, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
The Sixers pulled out the win despite being outrebounded 43-32.
Next up for the Sixers will be a Friday night showdown with the streaking LA Clippers. Los Angeles is currently the hottest team in the NBA, winning its seventh straight contest against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday despite missing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley.