Joel Embiid (ankle) probable Friday, out Saturday for Sixers

Joel Embiid (ankle) probable Friday, out Saturday for Sixers

Joel Embiid did not practice Thursday, a day after spraining his left ankle in the Sixers' dramatic one-point win over the Knicks. He sat out as a precautionary measure but was on the court taking shots (including this half-court bucket) in a moccasin-type shoe after practice.

Embiid had treatment on the left ankle Thursday and is probable to play Friday at home against the Hornets. He hurt the ankle in the second quarter and went back to the locker room but was healthy enough to play in the second half. He finished with 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

The Sixers have already announced he will not play Saturday in D.C. against the Wizards. Embiid is still not playing both games of a back-to-back.

“It’s just a decision that we make. We like, when we can, playing him at home,” Brown said after practice. “It’s not the complete marching orders. We feel like there’s a rhythm to what we’re doing. That’s part of it.” 

Jahlil Okafor, who has been healthy but on the bench for three straight Sixers games, will face the Wizards Saturday. The Sixers are 4-1 in their last five games, a span during which Okafor has totaled 10 minutes.

“Jahlil has taken a little bit of a hit. That disturbs me,” Brown said. “You’re going to go to Washington and it’s going to be easy because Joel Embiid isn’t going to play and Jahlil is going to be back on stage.”

Gerald Henderson participated in practice and received treatment as part of his work load plan, unrelated to his lingering hip discomfort. The shooting guard is probable against the Hornets.

How the Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

AP Images

How the Sixers can clinch a playoff spot

The Sixers could lock in a playoff spot Saturday night, but their postseason berth does not hinge on whether or not they beat the visiting Timberwolves.

The 41-30 Sixers would clinch if the 32-40 Pistons lose to the 24-48 Bulls. This is a meeting of two struggling teams, both who are 3-7 in their last 10 games and the Bulls are on a four-game losing skid.

The Sixers will have to wait for the results, though. The Pistons and Bulls tip off one hour after the Sixers, who have an early 6 p.m. game.

The Sixers' goal of making the playoffs would not stop with clinching a berth. They have their eyes set on homecourt advantage, a battle that could come down to the final games.

The Sixers currently sit in the fourth spot in a heated competition with the Pacers and Wizards. Keep an eye on how John Wall's health (knee) impacts this race. He practiced five-on-five Saturday.

Who needs Kawhi? Aldridge drops 45 in Spurs' OT win

USA Today Images

Who needs Kawhi? Aldridge drops 45 in Spurs' OT win

SAN ANTONIO -- LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell's 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs' 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah's 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Pacers use late run to edge Clippers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers used a late 9-0 run to hold on for a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting them on the precipice of clinching a playoff spot.

The Pacers won for only the second time in five games but can clinch a playoff berth with one more win or a Detroit loss.

Los Angeles' fading playoff aspirations were dealt another blow. The Clippers are now three games behind Utah for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Utah was playing later Friday.

Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 27 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in six games (see full recap).

Jokic, Murray lift Nuggets over Wizards
WASHINGTON -- Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each scored 25 points to keep the Denver Nuggets' playoff hopes alive by beating the Washington Wizards 108-100 on Friday night.

The one-two punch of Jokic and Murray plus outside shooting from Will Barton allowed the Nuggets to withstand a third-quarter charge from the Wizards and maintain their sights on one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Denver went into the night two games back of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz and shot 50 percent from 3-point territory to stay very much in the race with nine games remaining.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 24 points as it failed to gain ground in a competitive East where five teams are separated in the standings by four games (see full recap).