Los Angeles (AFP) – Joel Embiid delivered a fourth consecutive 30-point performance as the Philadelphia 76ers powered to a 111-101 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
Embiid finished with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists while posting a career-high five steals in a superb all-round display at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
The Cameroon international and NBA MVP contender was one of five Sixers players to finish in double digits as Philadelphia pulled away in the second half.
James Harden added 24 points with 12 assists while Tobias Harris scored 14. Georges Niang grabbed 12 points from the bench -– all from three-point range -– and Matisse Thybulle chipped in with 10 points.
The win saw the Sixers improve to 43-26 in the Eastern Conference, three games back from conference leaders Miami.
A gritty Sixers defensive performance also bottled up the Mavericks’ talisman Luka Doncic.
The Slovenian star was restricted to 17 points with 10 assists. Jalen Brunson led the Mavs scorers with 24 points.
After edging five points clear at half-time, Philadelphia took control after the interval, extending their lead to 20 points early in the fourth quarter before closing out a convincing win.
It was a disappointing outcome for Dallas after the high of earlier this week, when Spencer Dinwiddie’s last-gasp winner had earned the Mavs a pulsating victory over the Brooklyn Nets in New York.
The Mavs remain firmly on course for an automatic playoff berth however. Dallas are 43-27 for fifth place in the Western Conference table.
In Brooklyn, the Nets bounced back from Wednesday’s buzzer-beating defeat to Dallas with a 128-123 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Kevin Durant spurred the Nets with 38 points as they recovered from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to dig out victory.
LeBron ‘having a blast’
Seth Curry added 27 points -– including seven three-pointers -– to spark Brooklyn, who improved to 37-34 and remain in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“It was critical, that was a hard-playing team we played today,” Curry said.
“We had to really earn this one. K (Durant) was good again and he carried us offensively.”
In Toronto, LeBron James scored 36 points as the Los Angeles Lakers halted their three-game losing streak with a 128-123 overtime win over the Raptors.
But the unlikely hero for the Lakers was under-fire point guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook, who has faced abuse from Lakers fans this season after struggling to settle in Los Angeles, was pivotal in taking the game to overtime as the Raptors closed in on victory.
After missing a three-point attempt, Westbrook forced a steal, snatched the loose ball and then nailed a three-pointer on the buzzer to lock up the game at 116-116.
The Lakers then pulled ahead in overtime to claim victory.
“It was big-time from him,” James said of Westbrook’s game-tying three-pointer.
“The season hasn’t gone the way we would like it to go, but I’m having a blast just playing this game.”
The Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference standings at 30-40, outside the automatic playoff places.
In Miami, Tyler Herro once again picked up the offensive burden for the Heat in a 120-108 victory for the Eastern Conference leaders.
Herro scored 26 points while Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson added 19 apiece. Kyle Lowry added 16 points on a night when seven Miami players finished in double figures.
In Cleveland, the Cavaliers boosted their playoff hopes with a battling 119-116 win over Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
Reigning NBA MVP Jokic finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but Denver were undone by an impressive Cavs offensive performance.
Lauri Markkanen led the Cavs with 31 points, including six three-pointers, with Evan Mobley adding 27 and Darius Garland 25.