PHILADELPHIA — All-Star Joel Embiid scored a career-high 50 points in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 112-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
Embiid added 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals in a dominant performance at both ends.
“The only difference from this year and last year is about me being willing to dominate every single moment I’m on the floor on defense and on offense,” Embiid said.
Tobias Harris had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers. They played without Ben Simmons (illness) for the second straight game and clinched coaching duties for Doc Rivers at the All-Star game.
Having Embiid, of course, has helped.
“It’s good to have him on our side, I’ll tell you that,” Rivers said.
Zach LaVine scored 30 points for the Bulls.
With the 76ers clinging to a 107-103 lead, Embiid blocked LaVine’s driving attempt with 1:02 remaining, then hit a 17-foot baseline jumper with 41 seconds left. When the Bulls called a timeout, Embiid jogged to center court and put both hands up as if requesting cheers from the empty seats while the speakers played artificial “M-V-P!” “M-V-P!” chants.
Nuggets 120, Cavaliers 103
CLEVELAND — Jamal Murray scored a career-high 50 points, All-Star starter Nikola Jokic had a triple-double, and Denver adjusted to a schedule change by handing Cleveland its ninth straight loss in a matchup hastily arranged by the NBA because of COVID-19.
Murray hardly missed, making 21 of 25 shots, including eight of 10 three-pointers. He didn’t attempt a free throw. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the first player in league history to score 50 or more points without shooting a free throw.
Following the game, Murray was unaware that he had done something unique.
“I was just making my shots,” he said nonchalantly between sips of a smoothie. “It’s kind of cool to make history. It’s a cool stat.”
With the Cavaliers still hanging around in the fourth, Murray made three three-pointers in 1:05 to push Denver’s lead to 21. He scored 20 points in the final quarter before being replaced with 2:23 left.
Jokic, on his 26th biurthday, had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season. Collin Sexton scored 23 points and Jarrett Allen had 20 for Cleveland.
Suns 132, Pelicans 114
NEW ORLEANS — Chris Paul had 15 points and a season-high 19 assists, leading an 11-point, fourth-quarter comeback in Phoenix’s victory over New Orleans.
Paul, who rose to stardom with New Orleans after being drafted fourth overall in 2005, appeared to be gesturing that he owned the arena after hitting a step-back three that gave Phoenix a 118-107 lead with less than five minutes to go. The Suns outscored the Pelicans 41-12 in the final quarter.
Paul’s decisive three, his third of the game, was one of 22 the Suns hit in 39 attempts (56.4%). Jae Crowder hit six threes on his way to 20 points, and Frank Kaminsky hit five threes for the bulk of his 17 points. Devin Booker scored 23 points to help the Suns rebound from a tough home loss to Brooklyn to win for the 10th time in 12 games.
Brandon Ingram scored 25 points for the Pelicans, and Zion Williamson added 23. They’ve lost five of six.
Magic 124, Warriors 120
ORLANDO, Fla. — Nikola Vucevic had 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double, and Orlando overcame a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Golden State.
Vucevic made two free throws with 16 seconds left to put the Magic ahead 123-120 after Warriors star Stephen Curry hit back-to-back three-pointers in the final minute.
Curry missed an off-balance three-pointer from 27 feet with five seconds left that could have tied it. He finished with 29 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Golden State was trying to win three straight games for the first time this season, but it failed to get past two in a row for the seventh time.
Evan Fournier scored a season-high 28 points for Orlando, and Terrence Ross had 24 points and four three-pointers. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 26 points for Golden State.
Bucks 98, Thunder 85
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and eight assists, and Milwaukee beat Oklahoma City to snap a five-game skid.
The Bucks avoided their first six-game losing streak since March 12-22, 2015. They hadn’t lost five straight since Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 in 2017.
Khris Middleton added 20 points for the Bucks. Lu Dort had 17 for the Thunder.
Celtics 121, Hawks 109
BOSTON — Kemba Walker scored a season-high 28 points, and Boston held off Atlanta.
Jayson Tatum added 25 points and eight rebounds, and Jaylen Brown and Tristan Thompson each finished with 17 points to help Boston take the second of back-to-back meetings between the teams. The Hawks won the first meeting Wednesday night.
Trae Young led the Hawks with 31 points. Atlanta has lost five of six.
Grizzlies 109, Pistons 95
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ja Morant scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half, Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Memphis rallied to beat Detroit.
Kyle Anderson added 16 for the Grizzlies. Jerami Grant and Delon Wright led the Pistons with 16 points each.