Embiid doesn't want pain to trump love in back-to-back

Embiid doesn't want pain to trump love in back-to-back


Joel Embiid’s playing status for his second back-to-back will not be determined until game day.

The Sixers' big man is dealing with a right ankle injury that left him questionable for Friday’s game against the Pelicans before he posted a 24-point, 16-rebound double-double in 24 minutes (see highlights). He will be evaluated Saturday ahead of the Sixers' next matchup hosting the Clippers.

“We’re going to see how the ankle feels,” Embiid said after the Sixers’ 100-82 win (see observations). “It was pretty painful today, but I want to push through everything. I’ve made it this far and especially when I’ve been allowed to play back-to-backs, I really want to push through it and play. Then we’ll go from there.”

Embiid is unsure of how he bothered his ankle. He felt “pretty good” after logging 32 minutes Tuesday facing the Wizards. He experienced swelling on Wednesday and had trouble walking on it. The discomfort was alleviated Thursday but Friday he was in doubt up until he went through pregame warmups. Brett Brown was surprised Embiid ended up playing.

“To his credit, he loves playing at home,” Brown said. “He loves playing in front of these fans.”

Embiid didn’t show signs of being bothered. He recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds by halftime, joining DeMarcus Cousins and Nikola Jokic as the only players to do so this season.

The performance was reminiscent of the Sixers’ win over the Spurs on Jan. 3. Embiid had been ruled out with a sprained right hand and decided to play anyway. He ended up with 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and — most impressively — four blocks.

Embiid had not been made available for back-to-backs at all in his career until two weeks ago. He was eligible Jan. 28 and 29 against the Thunder and Bucks, but he played 36 minutes in Oklahoma City and sat out in Milwaukee. Last weekend, Embiid reached the milestone for the first time with consecutive contests at home against the Heat and on the road against the Pacers.

The advantage the Sixers have in the situation this weekend is both games are at the Wells Fargo Center, and Friday they built a 32-point lead after the third quarter, which allowed Embiid to rest the entire fourth.

“We feel like we’ve done as much as we can,” Brown said. “We played well, were able to get him out, back-to-backs here at home, which is very rare. We’ve given ourselves our best chance to be able to see him play a back-to-back tomorrow night.”

If Embiid does not play, expect Amir Johnson to get the start.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Raptors' win streak

USA Today Images

Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Raptors' win streak

TORONTO — Russell Westbrook had 37 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight triple-double, Steven Adams scored 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Raptors 132-125 on Sunday, snapping Toronto's winning streak at 11.

Paul George scored 22 points and Carmelo Anthony had 15 as the Thunder extended their winning streak to six. Corey Brewer scored 10 points for Oklahoma City.

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and Kyle Lowry fouled out with 22 points and 10 assists as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors suffered just their sixth home loss of the season. Toronto is 29-6 at Air Canada Centre, the best home record in the NBA.

DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Raptors coach Dwane Casey were all ejected in the final minute for complaining to the officials. DeRozan was incensed after not getting a call on his drive with 30 seconds left, and picked up two technicals in the following 22 seconds (see full recap).

Davis leads Pelicans past Celtics
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the banged-up Boston Celtics 108-89 on Sunday night.

Second-year pro Cheick Diallo had a season-high 17 points and Nikola Mirotic added 16 for New Orleans, which was desperate to win after dropping four of its previous five while in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Davis capped his night by hitting a baseline fallaway as he was fouled by Abdel Nader to make it 106-85 with 3:35 to go. The shot brought the crowd to its feet as Davis stumbled toward the sideline, where he exchanged high-fives with several fans before walking to the foul line to hit his foul shot.

The play capped a 22-6, fourth-quarter run to blow open what had been a tight game for most of the first three quarters (see full recap).

Harden scores 34 as Rockets hold off Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS — James Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, and Houston held off a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-120 on Sunday night for the Rockets' 26th win in 28 games.

The West's top team led by as many as 25 before the Timberwolves, holding on for dear life in a tightening playoff race, pulled within five in the fourth. The loss dropped the Wolves into the eighth playoff spot after they started the day in a three-way tie for fifth.

Harden had 11 points in the final 6:34, including a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left that effectively secured the win.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela each had 16 points for the Rockets.

Jeff Teague led Minnesota with 23 points, Andrew Wiggins had 21, and Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Crawford each added 20 (see full recap).

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

USA Today Images

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored 19 points, Marcin Gortat had 18 and the Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.

Washington (40-30) earned its second straight win to move into a tie with Indiana for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards also claimed the first tiebreaker by taking two of three in the season series.

Gortat was 6 for 8 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored a total of 17 points in his previous four games.

Washington went 10 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 54.8 percent from the field overall. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 16 points for the Wizards, and Markieff Morris added 15 (see full recap).

Giannis' double-double helps Bucks hold on to beat Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 122-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

The Bucks finished off the Eastern Conference's worst team with a game-ending 11-5 run, pushing the pace after the Hawks lost ball-handler Dennis Schroder. The guard fouled out with 2:46 left, and was called for a technical foul after exchanging words with an official on the way to the sideline.

Middleton hit the free throw that started the run. The Hawks looked rushed on their next two possessions with a turnover and a blocked shot, allowing the Bucks to brush past them.

Trailing by 13 at one point, Atlanta put up a spirited fight before losing its 50th game of the year. Taurean Prince scored 38 points, while Schroder finished with 18 (see full recap).

LeBron gets 33 points in triple-double as Cavs beat Bulls
CHICAGO — LeBron James scored 33 points as part of a triple-double, Jordan Clarkson had a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:27 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Saturday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 15th triple-double of the season, and Jeff Green added 21 points. Clarkson finished with 19 points to help the Cavaliers salvage a six-game split on their season-high six-game trip.

Denzel Valentine led Chicago with a career-high 34 points, hitting 8 of 11 from long range. The Bulls wiped out a 17-point halftime deficit even though they held out banged-up core players Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, only to come up short in the closing minutes.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue spent the second half in the locker room with an illness, another hit for an already short-handed team (see full recap).