NBA regular season

Back in form: MVP Embiid returns as Sixers hold off Thunder 


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Back in form: MVP Embiid returns as Sixers hold off Thunder 

BIG RETURN. Sixers center Joel Embiid (left) and Thunder guard Isaiah Joe shake hands on court after their game.

Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports/Reuter

After a two-month injury layoff, Joel Embiid flashes his MVP form with an all-around game for the Sixers

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and Joel Embiid added 24 points in his return to lift the Philadelphia 76ers to a 109-105 victory over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, April 2 (Wednesday, April 3, Manila time).

Embiid had not played since January 30 due to left meniscus surgery. Before his injury, the reigning MVP was leading the league in scoring at 35.3 points per game, along with 11.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

On Tuesday, Embiid was 12-for-12 from the free throw line with 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. He scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, when Philadelphia outscored the Thunder, 36-25.

The 76ers (41-35) won for the second consecutive game and swept the two-game season series against Oklahoma City.

The loss was just the third in 10 games for the Thunder (52-23).

Oklahoma City was without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the third time in four games with a right quad contusion and Jalen Williams with an ankle sprain.

The Thunder had several chances to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds, after Embiid’s free throws put Philadelphia up 106-105 with 38 seconds remaining.

But Embiid stripped Josh Giddey of the ball, then was fouled by Chet Holmgren. Embiid converted those free throws as well to put the 76ers up, 108-105.

Isaiah Joe missed two three-point tries, Jaylin Williams missed another, and Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris grabbed the rebound just ahead of the buzzer to put the game away.

Holmgren led the Thunder with 22 points, while Luguentz Dort and Aaron Wiggins added 15 each. Jaylin Williams notched a career-high 12 assists.

The 76ers, who trailed by 13 early in the second half, tied the game early in the fourth quarter. However, Oklahoma City reeled off an 11-0 run.

But Philadelphia answered with an 18-7 run to tie it at 101-all and then took the lead on Oubre’s three-point play on a dunk with 3:02 remaining.

Dort put Oklahoma City back up front in the final minute, before Embiid hit his free throws.

The 76ers were without Tyrese Maxey for the second consecutive game with left hip tightness. –

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