NBA

NBA: Embiid hits four free throws late in return to lift 76ers over Thunder

By Sports Desk April 02, 2024

Joel Embiid made his presence felt in his first game in nine weeks following knee surgery, sinking four free throws in the final 40 seconds and finishing with 24 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 109-105 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Embiid – the reigning MVP - added seven assists and six rebounds in nearly 30 minutes in his first game since Jan. 30.

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 25 points and Tobias Harris added 18 for the 76ers, who have won two straight following a 1-5 slide.

They are eighth in the Eastern Conference, 1 ½ games behind Miami.

Chet Holmgren scored 22 points and Lu Dort and Aaron Wiggins added 15 apiece as the Thunder failed to win a third straight and dropped one-half game behind Denver for the Western Conference lead.

Oklahoma City squandered an 11-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and was without All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the third time in four games with a quad injury.

Jokic’s big night powers Nuggets

Nikola Jokić had 42 points and 16 rebounds and Michael Porter Jr. hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to lift the Denver Nuggets to a 110-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Jokic’s hook shot snapped a 103-all tie but Victor Wembanyma’s layup at the other end tied it again with 62 seconds left.

Porter, who had 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, then drilled a 3 to put Denver ahead to stay.

Wembanyama had 23 points, 15 boards, eight assists and nine blocks to nearly complete the NBA’s first quadruple-double since David Robinson in 1994.

Denver moved atop the Western Conference – a half-game ahead of Oklahoma City and Minnesota.

Warriors stay hot, cool Mavericks

Andrew Wiggins scored 23 points and the Golden State Warriors survived Luka Dončić’s 20th triple-double of the season in a 104-100 victory to end the Dallas Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak.

Doncic had 30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists and trails only Domantas Sabonis (23) and Nikola Jokić (23) in triple-doubles. The Dallas superstar also notched his 48th 30-point game of the season, trailing only Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (50).

Klay Thompson and Chris Paul each scored 14 points and Stephen Curry had 13 on 5-of-18 shooting as the Warriors tied a season high with their fifth straight win.

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    Kristaps Porzingis suggested Thursday's defeat to the New York Knicks could be just what the Boston Celtics needed ahead of the playoffs.

    The Celtics went down 118-109 to the Knicks, as New York hunt down the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Boston have long since had their playoff berth secured, but have now lost their last two games.

    Porzingis, though, is taking the positives.

    "It stings to have this loss, but maybe we need this before heading into the postseason with a killer mentality," Porzingis said.

    "It's not who we are. This is not the team our fans love. That wasn't on display.

    "You best believe we'll show up when we have to. We know what the goal is and make no mistake about it."

    Jaylen Brown chipped in with 15 points for the Celtics, and like Porzingis, recognises Boston have not been up to scratch as of late.

    "We got out-toughed the last two games and haven't played to our standard," Brown said.

    "The game has shifted and it's going to shift even more in the playoffs."

    Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 39 points, and New York are now just one game behind the Milwaukee Bucks in the race for the No.2 seed.

    "We made shots and made the right plays," Brunson said.

    "Obviously, we know they're the top dog in the East. Whenever you play against them, it's always a good measuring stick to see where you're at.

    "We played pretty well, but we know what they’re capable of doing. We just had their number tonight."

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    Boston have long since had their playoff berth secured, but have now lost their last two games.

    Porzingis, though, is taking the positives.

    "It stings to have this loss, but maybe we need this before heading into the postseason with a killer mentality," Porzingis said.

    "It's not who we are. This is not the team our fans love. That wasn't on display.

    "You best believe we'll show up when we have to. We know what the goal is and make no mistake about it."

    Jaylen Brown chipped in with 15 points for the Celtics, and like Porzingis, recognises Boston have not been up to scratch as of late.

    "We got out-toughed the last two games and haven't played to our standard," Brown said.

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    "We made shots and made the right plays," Brunson said.

    "Obviously, we know they're the top dog in the East. Whenever you play against them, it's always a good measuring stick to see where you're at.

    "We played pretty well, but we know what they’re capable of doing. We just had their number tonight."

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    Brunson was 15 of 23 from the field and 6 for 11 from long range, while Donte DiVincenzo added 17 points and Josh Hart had 16 points and 16 rebounds.

    New York won its third straight and pulled within a game of Milwaukee for second in the East, with each team having two games left. The Knicks would need to win both and have the Bucks lose their games at Oklahoma City and Orlando, because Milwaukee has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

    The Knicks dominated on the glass, 52-36, and had 22 second-chance points compared to 12 for the Celtics.

    Boston got 18 points from Jayson Tatum and lost its second in a row.

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    McCollum matched a season high with nine 3-pointers in 12 tries and added seven assists for the Pelicans, who improved to 27-14 on the road, a franchise record for wins and tied with Boston for the best mark in the NBA.

    New Orleans is sixth in the Western Conference, one game ahead of Phoenix with two games remaining.

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