LOS ANGELES, United States, Dec 19 – Kendrick Nunn scored 26 points as the Miami Heat ended the Philadelphia 76ers’ unbeaten home record with a 108-104 victory on Wednesday.
Nunn led the scoring in a solid all-round offensive display for Miami, who improved to 20-8 to finish the night in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Power forward Bam Adebayo had 23 points with nine rebounds while Jimmy Butler added 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Miami.
The Heat seized control of the contest after a see-saw opening two quarters which saw the Sixers dominate offense early on.
The hosts raced into a 29-19 lead by the end of the first quarter and had opened up a 41-29 lead with just over seven minutes of the second quarter remaining.
But the Heat exploded for a 27-7 scoring run to close the half with an eight-point lead, leading 56-48 at the break.
Miami never lost their grip on the lead after that second-quarter blitz as the Sixers struggled to find their shooting range.
Joel Embiid led the scoring for the Sixers with 22 points and 19 rebounds while Tobias Harris added 20 points. The Sixers fell to 20-9 with the loss.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said his team had been determined to deliver a strong performance after a chastening 118-111 defeat in Memphis on Monday.
“Everyone was really frustrated, disappointed, angry yesterday with our performance in Memphis,” Spoelstra said.
“So all you can do is get to work. We had a long painful film session going through the autopsy of our lack of winning plays, and I thought we made a lot more winning plays tonight.”
– ‘Not our night’ –
Spoelstra said Nunn and other younger members of the Heat squad carried the team to the win.
“Kendrick made some big-time shots,” Spoelstra said. “Our young guys were very good tonight. They took a beating in the film session yesterday but they took it on the chin and they produced tonight.”
Sixers head coach Brett Brown said his team had struggled to adapt to the Heat’s zone defense when the points dried up in the second quarter.
“It was as much a mentality and mood swing as anything,” Brown said.
“We had a lack of aggression and were sort of stuck in mud. And it crept into our defense… sometimes it’s just not your night.”
Elsewhere Wednesday, the Boston Celtics exploited the injury absence of Luka Doncic to claim a 109-103 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Texas.
Kemba Walker led the Boston scoring with 32 points, with Jaylen Brown adding 26 and Jayson Tatum 24.
Kristaps Porzingis top scored for Dallas, who fell to 18-9 following the defeat. The Mavericks remain in fourth spot in the West.
Boston’s win leapfrogged the Celtics over Miami into second place in the Eastern Conference at 18-7, 4.5 games adrift of the leading Milwaukee Bucks.
In other games, the New Orleans Pelicans ended a 13-game losing streak after downing the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-99 on the road.
Brandon Ingram was the standout for the Pels, scoring 34 points with six assists and five rebounds.
In Detroit, the NBA champion Toronto Raptors eased to a 112-99 win over the Pistons with hefty contributions from Pascal Siakam (25 points), Kyle Lowry, with 20 points and Serge Ibaka, who had 25 from the bench.
Toronto are in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference following the victory.