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Joel Embiid had 41 points and 10 rebounds to lift the host Philadelphia 76ers over the Houston Rockets 124-115 on Monday (Tuesday, January 16, Manila time).
Embiid had missed seven of the past nine games, including the past three, due to knee and ankle injuries.
He returned Monday to produce his 17th straight game with at least 30 points and his 16th in a row with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. In addition, Embiid reached the 40-point mark for the seventh time this season.
Tyrese Maxey added 27 points while Patrick Beverley scored 11 and Tobias Harris chipped in with 10. The Sixers played without Robert Covington (knee), Mo Bamba (knee) and De’Anthony Melton (spine).
Jalen Green led the Rockets with 20 points and Alperen Sengun added 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Dillon Brooks contributed 18 points, Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore added 14 apiece and Jabari Smith Jr. had 13.
The game became chippy 16 seconds into the fourth quarter, as Brooks and Marcus Morris Sr. each received a technical foul.
The Sixers extended their lead to 104-78 when Maxey hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 10:24 remaining.
Maxey soon threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk with 8:58 left for a commanding 108-82 advantage.
The Rockets made a late push with all reserves playing, but the result had already been decided.
Leading 52-32, the Sixers reeled off seven straight points, all by Embiid — a three-point play and four free throws — for a 27-point advantage with 3:31 left in the second quarter.
The Rockets’ frustration bubbled over when coach Ime Udoka was assessed a technical foul with 3:00 remaining.
Houston closed to within 66-47 at halftime. Sengun led the way with 13 points but also committed five turnovers.
Embiid was dominant for the Sixers with 26 points. Philadelphia was also efficient from 3-point range, going 9-for-17.
Green dropped in a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to 75-58 with 8:29 to go in the third quarter.
Smith appeared to be fouled, but there was no whistle, and he was then given a technical foul with 5:33 remaining as the Rockets trailed 81-66.
Beverley drove to the basket and scored with 3:47 left for an 85-68 advantage. On the Sixers’ next possession, Beverley dished to Paul Reed for a 19-point lead. – Rappler.com