76ers

Joel Embiid's Broadway Christmas show

Joel Embiid's Broadway Christmas show

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Joel Embiid wanted to give Sixers fans the gift of a win on Christmas Day. He and his teammates accomplished that with a 105-98 victory over the Knicks.

The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved to 15-18 on the season.

Kristaps Porzingis (22 points, seven rebounds) garners attention in any game and is the player on the Knicks to watch, but this one turned into a battle of the centers. Enes Kanter put up a massive 31-point, 22-rebound double-double. Embiid was right behind with 25 points and 16 boards in 34 minutes.

• Embiid played after going through pregame warmups to test his back. Taking the court on Christmas Day was significant to him. 

“To me, it’s special because I’ve been here four years and we’ve gone through a lot and a lot of losing,” he said before the game. “To be in this type of matchup, especially with the whole world watching on Christmas, I’m excited.” 

• Turnovers (15 total) crept in toward the end of the game. After Simmons put the Sixers up 103-95 with a two-handed fastbreak dunk, New York's Courtney Lee stole the ball from Embiid with 30 seconds to go. Lee drained a three on the break and Embiid fouled Porzingis on the play, setting up a potential four-point play. But Porzingis missed the free throw and Embiid secured the rebound. 

• Embiid took spills throughout the game, including one chasing a ball out of bounds and another colliding with Jarrett Jack during a drive to the basket. Jack was called for a Flagrant 1, which sparked a free-throw shooting flurry by Embiid, who finished 7 for 8 from the line. 

• T.J. McConnell has a flair for playing against the Knicks. Remember, he hit a game-winning buzzer-beater on them last season. On Monday, he contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench. McConnell became the first Sixers reserve player to score 15 points on Christmas Day since 1988 when Ron Anderson and Gerald Henderson both reached that mark. 

• JJ Redick made his return after missing the last two games because of right hamstring tightness. The veteran quickly got into a rhythm, scoring 15 points in the first half. He finished with 24 (4 for 8 from three, 8 for 8 from the line). 

• Both Dario Saric and Robert Covington had off-shooting afternoons. Covington went 2 for 8 from the field and 1 for 4 from three. Saric kept looking for his shot when it wasn’t falling, going 4 for 15 from the field and 0 for 6 from long range. 

• Before the game, Simmons (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists) gifted all of his teammates with Beats by Dre headphones. 

• The Sixers played on Christmas Day for the first time since 2001, when they competed in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Historically, the Sixers are 6-5 against the Knicks on Christmas Day (five games as the Syracuse Nationals) but have not faced them on Dec. 25 since 1978. 

Raptors continue to take care of business at home

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Raptors continue to take care of business at home

TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Toronto Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs.

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Patty Mills had 13 as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six road games. The Spurs are 11-15 away from home.

It had been more than two years since Toronto last beat San Antonio. The Raptors won 97-94 at home on Dec. 9, 2015.

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed his second straight game because of a sore right thigh. Ginobili returned to Texas after the Spurs won at Brooklyn on Wednesday (see full recap).

Beal, Oubre spark Wizards’ win over Pistons
DETROIT -- Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 26 points each, and the Washington Wizards scored 45 points in the third quarter before holding on for a 122-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

The Pistons cut a 20-point second-half deficit to four in the fourth quarter, but John Wall made a big 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 107-100. Oubre added a four-point play a few possessions later to push Washington's lead to nine.

Andre Drummond had 14 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists for the Pistons, who have lost four straight.

Both teams were struggling coming into the game. The Wizards lost by 24 at Charlotte on Wednesday, and they fell behind by 15 in the first quarter at Detroit. It was tied at 46 at halftime, though (see full recap).

Nets edge Heat to snap 5-game home skid
NEW YORK -- DeMarre Carroll scored 26 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Miami Heat 101-95 on Friday night.

Brooklyn snapped a five-game losing skid at Barclays Center and a seven-game home losing streak to the Heat.

Caris LeVert and Joe Harris each added 12 points for the Nets. D'Angelo Russell played 14 minutes and went 0-for-5 from the field for Brooklyn in his first action after missing 32 games following left knee surgery.

Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Goran Dragic scored 17 points for the Heat.

LeVert made an acrobatic layup to give the Nets a 95-91 lead with 57.8 seconds remaining and then made a step-back jumper to ice the game at 97-91 (see full recap).

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

While Joel Embiid was sharing his first All-Star nod with his teammates and deciding to move on from his former crush, at least one person wasn’t happy that the Sixers’ center was tabbed as a starter.

Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis feels like he should have garnered that final frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Players know,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

True, Porzingis had more of the players’ support as he finished third in the East in that category compared to Embiid in fourth. 

However, Embiid had the trump card with a pair of third-place finishes in both media and fan voting while Porzingis came in fourth. The fan vote was the main key, as it accounted for 50 percent of the overall tally.

“I feel very blessed to be in this type of position,” Embiid said Thursday. “Thank all the fans out there for the support. It’s been a tough couple of years and I really appreciate it — everybody out there, everybody around me, the whole team, the whole organization, the fans especially, for making this happen. We can only get better from here.”

If Embiid is going to get even better, look out. He’s already averaging 23.9 points (48.7 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Oh yeah, he also has the Sixers with a 21-20 record and sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Porzingis’ overall numbers have gone down every month this season. He’s currently putting up 23.6 points (43.4 percent shooting), 6.9 boards, 1.2 assists and 2.4 blocks a night. And the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to 20-25.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Porzingis said. “Fans are one thing. It is what it is. There are a lot of things I could have done better also. It is what it is.”