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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers (left) speaks with Denver head coach Michael Malone after a controversial game at the Wells Fargo Center

Basketball

Nuggets beat short-handed 76ers as virus depletes NBA rosters

WASHINGTON, United States, Jan 10The Philadelphia 76ers, so badly depleted by Covid-19 protocols and injuries that they were forced to activate an injured player, were routed 115-103 by the visiting Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

The short-handed Sixers were down to just seven healthy players so coach Doc Rivers dressed Mike Scott, who had a left knee injury, just so they could meet the league requirement to have a minimum of eight players. Rivers told Scott he wouldn’t have to play.

“Covid created this but the concern is not Covid now,” Rivers said. “The concern is injuries.”

The Sixers were missing a number of starters, including Seth Curry, who tested positive for the coronavirus during Thursday’s loss to Brooklyn.

Because of contact tracing, Covid-19 health protocols and injuries several others stars were also missing including Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.

Before the game, Rivers said he felt it should have been cancelled or postponed.

“I don’t think we should (play) but it’s not for me to express that,” Rivers said. “I do worry about our player health.”

Also missing were Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and Vincent Poirier.

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“I trust the league and I trust the doctors as far as health-wise,” Rivers said. “I’m more concerned with health on the floor.”

Nikola Jokic had 15 points and 12 assists and Gary Harris scored 21 points to lead the Nuggets.

Jamal Murray and Will Barton had 14 points apiece for the Nuggets, who broke open a close game after halftime. JaMychal Green and Monte Morris added 12 points apiece.

Rookie Tyrese Maxey tallied a career-high 39 points on 18-of-33 shooting, Isaiah Joe added 13 and Dakota Mathias had 12 for Philadelphia, who lost their second in a row and had their 20-game home winning streak snapped.

Cameroonian star centre Embiid was sidelined with back tightness while Australian guard Simmons was out with knee stiffness.

“With the minutes we would have to ask (from Embiid), it would be insane to play him,” Rivers said.

The Sixers started veterans Dwight Howard and Danny Green alongside rookie guards Isaiah Joe, Tyrese Maxey and Dakota Mathias.

The Nuggets were without Michael Porter, who is in quarantine due to Covid-19 safety protocols.

“They deemed it safe enough to play,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “To be honest, I think we’re going to start seeing more of this.”

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