Sixers outlast Dallas Mavericks, 116-108, in return of Joel Embiid and James Harden
Published in Basketball
PHILADELPHIA — Luka Doncic attempted to float a driving layup over Joel Embiid, but the Sixers’ big man rejected the ball at the rim.
That denial of the Dallas Mavericks superstar all but sealed the Sixers 116-108 victory Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, on a night Embiid and fellow standout James Harden returned from injury.
The victory moved the Sixers (50-26) to two games back of the Boston Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference standings with six regular-season games remaining, and pushed them 2 1/2 games ahead of the fourth-place Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Sixers overcame a 12 point second-quarter deficit to seize control in the final period.
De’Anthony Melton hit a corner three-pointer to put the Sixers up, 108-103 with less than six minutes remaining, before a Tyrese Maxey bucket extended that lead to seven. Then after a deep three-pointer by Doncic cut the Sixers’ advantage to 111-108, Tobias Harris answered with a hook shot in the lane before Harden drew a foul and hit both free throws.
Coach Doc Rivers often points to the first game following a road trip — the Sixers had just played four consecutive contests (and 12 of their previous 15) away from the Wells Fargo Center — as particularly challenging. And the Sixers indeed looked sluggish early on, trailing by as many as 12 points in the second quarter by surrendering 11 points off seven turnovers, allowing seven fastbreak points and shooting 42.5% from the floor before the half.
The Sixers chipped away to briefly take a 74-71 lead on a pair of Embiid free throws followed by a P.J. Tucker finish inside, before the Mavericks answered with a 15-5 surge capped by a Doncic three-pointer to go back up, 86-79. The Sixers then staged a 10-5 run to enter the final period trailing by two.
Embiid finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Harden scored 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting but added 12 assists and four rebounds. Maxey added 22 points, four rebounds and four assists to continue his terrific scoring month.
The Sixers next host the Toronto Raptors on Friday, before two marquee matchups at the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday and Boston Celtics next Tuesday.
Embiid, Harden return
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