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James Harden increases 76ers’ chances to win the championship, says Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid drives while Oklahoma City Thunder counterpart Derrick Favors tries to defend. Picture: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid drives while Oklahoma City Thunder counterpart Derrick Favors tries to defend. Picture: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Published Feb 12, 2022

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Los Angeles - Joel Embiid poured in 25 points and 19 rebounds to power the Philadelphia 76ers to a 100-87 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Embiid, who also had five blocks and four assists in front of the crowd of 20 600 at Wells Fargo Center, recorded his 22nd straight game with at least 25 points.

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Philadelphia played their first game since making a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday that saw former league MVP James Harden join his third team in the last two years.

Philadelphia sent Australia's Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and two first-round draft picks to the Nets for Harden and Paul Millsap.

Since the players haven't completed their physicals, the 76ers played without all five, leaving them short-handed. Simmons, of Melbourne, has yet to play in a game this season.

"It sucks to lose some of my teammates. Seth did such a great job for us.

"But James Harden is one of the best players in the league. It is pretty exciting. You add someone like that and your chances to win the championship are even bigger. I am excited to get on with it," said Embiid.

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Tyrese Maxey added 24 points and Tobias Harris contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Matisse Thybulle added 10 points.

Derrick Favors led the Thunder with 16 points while Luguentz Dort and Aleksej Pokusevski added 15 each.

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Darius Bazley had 14 points and 15 rebounds as Oklahoma City lost their fourth straight.

Embiid scored 11 points in the third quarter as the 76ers led 77-61 going into the fourth.

After a 9-2 run, the Thunder got within 87-75 halfway through the fourth.

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Theo Maledon hit a three-pointer with 2:41 remaining and the Thunder trailed 88-82. But Harris responded with a three pointer of his own and Maxey made a layup to extend the lead to 11 points.

Head coach Mark Daigneault said he was pleased the Thunder did not make a lot of deals at the trade deadline.

"We love our guys. We really like our team," he said. "We like the direction we're headed. We're obviously early in the process. We have a lot of confidence in not only the guys we have right now, but where we're going."

Elsewhere, Jayson Tatum scored 24 points as the Boston Celtics withstood a triple double from Nikola Jokic with a 108-102 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Celtics trailed 88-86 with 8:26 left before outscoring the Nuggets 22-14 to close the game out.

Marcus Smart delivered 22 points and Robert Williams finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds as the host Celtics stretched their winning streak to seven games.

Former San Antonio guard Derrick White came off the bench to score 15 points in his first game since being acquired in a trade on Thursday.

Triple-double

Jokic paced Denver with 23 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in the loss. Jokic has recorded a triple-double in eight of his past 14 games.

Aaron Gordon scored 17 points, Facundo Campazzo had 14, Will Barton added 13, and Bones Hyland had 10 for the Nuggets, who have lost four of their last six.

In Chicago, DeMar DeRozan finished with 35 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 134-122 victory over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Also, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen each scored 22 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied from a 21 point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 120-113.

It marked the largest comeback of the season for Cleveland, who stormed back from a 20-point deficit Sunday against Indiana.

AFP

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