Ben Simmons and his high-flying Philadelphia 76ers have crashed back to earth with a 113-103 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday in game two of the Eastern Conference first-round series at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 76ers entered Monday's game in Philadelphia on a 17-game win streak and appeared set to come back from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit, but the Heat hit late clutch baskets to break the game open again and even the best-of-seven series 1-1.
Simmons (24 points, eight assists and eight rebounds) flirted with another triple-double while the Heat were led by veteran Dwyane Wade who scored 28 points off the bench in just 26 minutes.
Goran Dragic added 20 points and James Johnson had 18 for the Heat while Josh Richardson contributed 14 points and Wayne Ellington and Kelly Olynyk each had 11.
Game three will be Friday in Miami.
Simmons was supported by Dario Saric (23 points and nine rebounds), Marco Belinelli (16 points) and Ersan Ilyasova (14 points and 11 rebounds) while JJ Redick scored 11 points on just 4-for-13 shooting.
The Sixers hadn't suffered a loss since March 13, as they headed into this encounter having won their past 17 games.
Philadelphia was 7-of-35 from three-point territory and shot just 42.1 percent overall in playing their second straight playoff game without injured center Joel Embiid.
The Heat scored five quick points to open the fourth, going back up 91-75 just 56 seconds in.
A 10-2 surge by the Sixers, capped with a three-pointer by Saric, got them within eight (93-85) with 8:58 remaining. On their next possession, Simmons finished a fast break with a dunk and the Heat advantage was sliced to 93-87.
Johnson responded by hitting a huge three-pointer to put the Heat up 96-87.
When Saric later drove to the basket and scored, the Sixers trailed only 96-92 with 5:47 left.
After re-entering the game, Wade's steal and dunk with 4:04 left gave the Heat a 100-96 lead. Wade then found Johnson for a dunk and a six-point advantage, 102-96. Dragic eventually capped a 6-0 run with a baseline jumper for a 104-96 advantage with 2:25 left and the 76ers never challenged again.
The Sixers had surged to a 29-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then the Heat turned into a completely different team with a dominating second quarter, a 34-13 outburst which turned a seven-point deficit into a 56-42 advantage at half-time.
Wade was scintillating off the Miami bench with 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the first half. After scoring his 17th point, Wade moved past Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird for sole possession of 10th place on the NBA's all-time playoff scoring list with 3899 points.
Wade actually outscored the Sixers 15-13 in the second, with the 13 points scored the fewest for the 76ers in a quarter this season.
Dragic also shot 5-of-6 for 11 points in the first half.
No Sixer reached double figures in scoring in the opening two quarters and the team made just 2-of-18 from beyond the 3-point arc. The 16 missed treys were their most in any playoff half in franchise history.
In Oakland, Australia’s Patty Mills scored 21 points but it was not enough as the San Antonio Spurs fell again to the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors won 116-101 at Oracle Arena to take a 2-0 lead in the series with Kevin Durant leading the way with 32 points.
The Spurs took it to the Warriors early and led 53-47 at half-time.
‘‘I think in the second-half we matched their defensive intensity,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Mills’ 21 points was a personal playoff record and a return to form after the struggles he suffered in game one on Saturday.
Mills was again given the difficult defensive task of guarding the taller Klay Thompson, who had 31 points including connecting on five of his eight three- point attempts.
LaMarcus Aldridge was the best for the Spurs with 34 points and 12 rebounds.
Game three is in San Antonio on Thursday.
Field Level Media and AAP