76ers rout Mavericks in Noel's return to Philadelphia
Dallas Mavericks' Manny Harris, right, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers' Justin Anderson during the second half of an NBA basketball game, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 116-74. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
By Aaron Bracy, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Justin Anderson tied his career-high with 19 points and Robert Covington scored 12 of his 18 points in Philadelphia's dominant third quarter, helping the 76ers rout the Dallas Mavericks 116-74 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time).
Richaun Holmes added 17 points for the 76ers, who snapped an eight-game losing streak to Dallas while spoiling Nerlens Noel's return to Philadelphia.
Noel had nine points and five rebounds in his first game against his former team since being traded on Feb. 23 (Feb. 24, PHL time). Dwight Powell led the Mavericks with 14 points.
Philadelphia got its largest margin of victory of the season while handing Dallas its worst defeat, topping the Mavericks' 128-90 setback at Cleveland on Nov. 25 (Nov. 26, PHL time). The loss also hurt the playoff chances of the Mavericks, who began the day 3.5 games behind Denver for the final spot in the Western Conference.
Philadelphia has no such postseason hopes, particularly since top rookie Joel Embiid was lost for the season.
The 76ers had hoped to build around Noel when they acquired him on draft day in 2013 after he was picked No. 6 by New Orleans. Noel experienced mostly losing during his 2.5 seasons in Philadelphia as part of former general manager Sam Hinkie's rebuilding plan, dubbed "The Process."
It must have felt like old times for Noel in the third quarter when Philadelphia outscored the Mavericks 36-16 to enter the fourth ahead 87-56.
Dallas shot 5-for-21 from the field while the 76ers seemed to do whatever they wanted offensively.
Anderson, acquired from Dallas in the Noel trade, had two highlight-reel dunks in the period, both of which drew "oohs" and "ahhs" from the home crowd.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle went deep to his bench late in the quarter to try anything that might work, but the Mavericks had no answers for the 76ers, who led by as many as 43 points.
Noel entered to strong applause from Philadelphia's fans with 6:45 left in the first quarter. Prior to his entry, the team showed a video tribute to Noel on the scoreboard.
Noel thanked Philadelphia's fans on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) by offering free cheesesteaks at a popular Philadelphia restaurant to anyone attending. Later on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), Noel hung out with former teammate Holmes.
Bryan Colangelo — who replaced Hinkie following last season — traded Noel to break up a logjam at center with him, Jahlil Okafor and Embiid.
Noel made his presence felt in the first half against Philadelphia, blocking Anderson with 1:08 left in the first quarter and throwing down a left-handed dunk over Holmes with 7:03 left in the second quarter.
But the Mavericks struggled mightily in the second quarter, missing 15 of 23 field goals while being outscored 30-17 in the period to enter the locker room trailing Philadelphia 51-40.
Mavericks: G Wesley Matthews returned to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) win over Washington with a right calf strain. He had three points in 24 minutes. The Mavericks took the only other meeting of the season between the teams, 113-95 on Feb. 1 (Feb. 2, PHL time) in Dallas.
76ers: Rapper Biz Markie performed at halftime. Philadelphia improved to 16-19 at home. The 76ers' previous largest margin of victory was a 97-79 win at Detroit on Dec. 11 (Dec. 12, PHL time).
Mavericks: Cap four-game trip at Brooklyn on Sunday (Monday, PHL time).
76ers: Host Boston on Sunday (Monday, PHL time).