Joel Embiid's 47 points and 18 rebounds propels Sixers to comeback win over Nuggets in battle of MVP contenders

Gina Mizell, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid got the ball as the shot clock ticked down, dribbled, and pulled up against Nikola Jokić.

The 3-pointer went bang, Embiid shrugged his shoulders on the way back to the bench, and the Wells Fargo Center crowd unleashed into an “M-V-P!” chant that reminded everyone who they believed was most worthy of the award.

Embiid’s 47-point outburst — including 12 in the decisive final period — along with 18 rebounds and five assists propelled the 76ers to a 126-119 victory over the Denver Nuggets Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center in one of the more anticipated games of the NBA’s regular season.

The nationally televised matinee — part of the NBA’s newly created “rivalry week” — matched Embiid, the MVP runner-up the past two seasons, against Jokić, the who beat Embiid for the award both times. Both players are in the conversation for the honor again based on their individual production and team success — the Sixers have won 20 of their previous 23 games, and the Nuggets sit atop the Western Conference standings.

Both star centers, who are lauded for their immense skill for their size, put up impressive numbers Saturday. Jokić, as usual, was in triple-double territory, totaling 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and nine assists.

But Embiid made the biggest shots in crunch time. He tied the game. 108-108, with a pull-up jumper over Jokić with 6 minutes, 57 seconds to play, then again, 110-110, about a minute later. He then gave the Sixers a two-point lead before stretching that advantage to 115-110 with a 3-pointer with 4:36 left. He then fed Tobias Harris in the corner for a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 118-110, a distance the Nuggets could not overcome.


It was quite the turnaround from a first half that looked like a budding the Nuggets blowout. The Sixers clawed out of multiple 15-point deficits to trail, 99-96, entering the final period.

Denver’s offense was more lethal across the board early on, dropping 73 first-half points, including a 19-8 run to end the second quarter and lead by 15 points at the break. The Sixers answered by opening the third with a 15-4 spurt to close the gap to 77-73 on an Embiid finish at the rim.

The Sixers next play consecutive home games against the Orlando Magic on Monday and Wednesday, before hitting the road to face the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

Big-man battle


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