Scottie Wilbekin’s Three Pointer Gives Sixers Comeback Win Over Cavaliers

The Sixers used a late 15-4 run to pull off a surprising win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who led by as many as 19 earlier in the game.

Jahlil Okafor scored 12 points to go along with 3 rebounds in his 2nd preseason game. | Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports

Jahlil Okafor scored 12 points to go along with 3 rebounds in his 2nd preseason game. | Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports

After being down by as many as 19 points early in the second quarter, and 17 points in the third quarter, the Sixers used a 15-4 run to close out the game for a surprising comeback. The run culminated in a Scottie Wilbekin three pointer with 1.9 seconds left that gave the Sixers their first lead of the game, and a surprising victory.

The run came primarily from the end of the Sixers bench, with J.P. Tokoto, Richaun Holmes, Christian Wood, and Scottie Wilbekin seeing their first action of the night during the decisive run to end the game.

“What stood out most was our resilience,” Sixers center Nerlens Noel said. “How well we fought back and were able to get back in the game and get the win, from our bench especially.”

For as exciting as the comeback was, the focus is still on the growing chemistry between big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. The pair didn’t have the same success they had in the preseason opener, especially Okafor. The rookie big man shot just 4-12 from the field for his 12 points, although he did get to the free throw line 5 times, making 4 of them.

“I thought tonight it wasn’t as good as it was the other night,” Brown said about the pairing. “I felt like it wasn’t as fluid as it was in the first game.”

Nerlens Noel finished with 10 points, a team high 15 rebounds, and 3 steals. Noel’s energy in the second half was a key catalyst in the turnaround.

“I saw ups and downs,” Noel said after the game. “I just have to do a better job mentally of staying focused and I think I did that in the second half, and tried to play with a little more intensity.”

The Sixers were led by Jerami Grant, who scored 19 points on 6-10 shooting from the field, including 2-5 from three point range. He also got to the free throw line 7 times.

While the Cavaliers didn’t hurt the Sixers in transition like the Wizards did in the preseason opener, reserve guard Jared Cunningham gave the Sixers fits. Cunningham scored 31 points on 8-10 shooting, including 16 attempts at the free throw line.

The Cavaliers played without many of their key players. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov all did not play due to a combination of injuries and rest.

Okafor Experiences Knee Soreness

Before the game head coach Brett Brown said he was targeting between 22 and 24 minutes for his rookie big man. Okafor ended up getting just over 20 minutes on the night.

After the game, Brown said he wanted to give Okafor more time, but he was advised by the medical staff to limit his minutes.

“He had some soreness in his knee,” Brown said. “My intention was to give him more minutes than I did. I was just advised that I shouldn’t, just to be safe.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” Brown continued.

Okafor agreed that it was precautionary.

“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a little soreness,” Okafor said. “ It’s preseason so coach goes overboard with making sure that we’re healthy. He wants to make sure I’m healthy when the season really kicks off.”

Injury Updates

Before the game, Brown gave an update on some of the lingering injuries the Sixers have experienced so far in training camp and preseason.

  • Pierre Jackson, who has a nagging groin injury, could be back as early as 8-10 days from now
  • Nik Stauskas, sidelined because of stress reaction of his right tibia, is about 2 weeks away from returning.
  • Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall, both returning from ACL injuries, are at least a month away from returning to action.
  • T.J. McConnell, who had a sprained left foot, returned against the Cavaliers.