Joel Embiid notched his NBA-leading 32nd double-double of the season in his return and the Philadelphia 76ers withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Los Angeles Clippers for a 119-113 victory on Tuesday night to open the new year.
Embiid was a game-time decision after missing one game because of a sore left knee. He didn’t appear hindered while recording 28 points and 19 rebounds. He scored 15 points in the first quarter, including 10 of the Sixers’ final 16.
He hit a 3-pointer early in the second, one of five by the Sixers in the period that propelled them to a 76-58 halftime lead. They built their largest lead of the game — 24 points — on a 3-pointer by Landry Shamet.
The Clippers closed within four in the fourth on Montrezl Harrell’s 3-point play. He was rejected by Embiid but got the ball back and scored, drew the foul and made the free throw.
But Embiid scored to keep the Sixers ahead 114-108. Lou Williams and Harrell combined to miss 3 of 4 free throws and Ben Simmons scored. Simmons punctuated the win with a huge dunk.
Former Clipper JJ Redick added 18 points and Jimmy Butler scored 16 before being ejected to help Philadelphia improve to 8-11 on the road. Simmons just missed a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Williams led the Clippers with 22 points off the bench. Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari finished with 21 points each and Harrell had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Clippers alternated their two tallest players — 7-0 Boban Marjanovic and 6-11 Marcin Gortat — on Embiid, but he thwarted their effort by making 8 of 12 free throws.
Led by its bench, Los Angeles outscored the Sixers 30-25 in the third, closing with a 10-2 run, but still trailed 101-88 going into the fourth.
That’s when things got chippy.
Embiid and Patrick Beverley received offsetting technicals at 9:32 after tangling. Embiid grabbed a rebound and Beverley yanked his jersey. Jonah Bolden pulled Beverley off Embiid in a mass of players.
Avery Bradley and Butler got tied up going for a rebound and shoved each other. Referees and security were quick to come on the court and separate the players. They were each hit with technicals and ejected with 7:01 to play.
76ers: Embiid went over the 3,000-point mark in his career. … They improved to 2-2 on their season-long five-game trip. … G Markelle Fultz (thoracic outlet syndrome) is with the team while undergoing physical therapy, but there is no timetable for his return.
Clippers: F Luc Mbah a Moute (sore left knee) missed his 33rd straight game.
76ers: At Phoenix on Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back.
Clippers: Have two days off before playing at Phoenix on Friday.
Source: The Associated Press