76ers

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

ATLANTA -- John Wall had that look in his eye at morning shootaround.

Bradley Beal knew it was going to be a big night for Washington's star point guard.

Wall scored 42 points -- a career playoff high, with 19 coming in the fourth quarter to single-handedly hold off a furious Atlanta comeback -- and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday, capturing the opening-round playoff series 4-2.

"You could just tell he was locked in," Beal said. "He was ready to go. We just feed off that."

Beal wasn't too shabby either, scoring 31 points (see full recap).

Celtics complete series comeback, eliminate Bulls
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday (see full recap).

Clippers beat Jazz on road to force Game 7
SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.

He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds (see full recap).

Exhaustion catches up to Sixers in 3OT classic

Exhaustion catches up to Sixers in 3OT classic

BOX SCORE

There’s free basketball, and then there’s triple overtime.

The Sixers lost in triple (count it, one, two, three) overtime to the Thunder, 119-117. Patrick Patterson blocked JJ Redick’s attempt at a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds to seal the win Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid reached his goal of playing 48 minutes, albeit after regulation. Ben Simmons and Redick each clocked over 50. 

The Sixers played beyond regulation for the second straight game. The last time they reached triple overtime was Nov. 20, 1992, against the Heat. 

• So what exactly can Embiid do in 48 minutes? Well, 34 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two monster blocks. Embiid fell hard twice in the third quarter but stayed in the game in spite of his recent back injury. He missed last Sunday’s game because of back tightness. Embiid got in the mix with Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams throughout the game. He waved goodbye when Adams fouled out.

• Russell Westbrook recorded his 10th triple-double of the season and 89th of his career with 27 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists in 52 minutes. Westbrook shot 0 for 7 in the fourth as the Sixers closed out regulation on an 11-0 run. He scored six of the Thunder’s eight points in triple overtime. Westbrook’s biggest highlight of the game, from a Sixers fan’s perspective, happened when he missed a pair of free throws in the third. An opponent going 0 for 2 from the line means everyone in attendance gets a free Wendy’s Frosty. 

• Just like in Tuesday’s game, Simmons was quiet through three quarters. However, he made shots when they counted, including a game-tying dunk from Embiid (his assist partner against the Timberwolves) with 53.1 seconds to go. Simmons closed in on a triple-double with 12 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds (see highlights).

• Anthony (24 points) turned back the clock the night before his return to Madison Square Garden. Anthony, who isn’t hesitant to throw up 20 shot attempts (and imagine how many he would have gone for in triple OT with the Knicks), was an effective 11 for 17 from the field in 47 minutes. He is averaging 6.5 field goals made per game in his first season with the Thunder. 

• Trevor Booker suffered a sprained left ankle in the third and did not return to the game. X-rays came back negative, so it’s a wait-and-see situation as to whether the newly acquired reserve misses any time. 

• Robert Covington’s shooting performance in regulation was cold like the weather outside. He shot 4 for 21 from the field (3 for 15 from three) in his first game since taking a nasty fall on his back last Saturday in Cleveland. 

Have to wonder how much he was impacted by the snow delays. Covington’s commute took more than twice as long and he arrived to the arena about an hour before game time. Players are very routine and Covington didn't get to warm up for as long he as he normally does. This, of course, is not an excuse. But this isn’t the first time a player has had an off night after being delayed. Covington ended up with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double. 

Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

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AP Images

Sixers thankful to have Embiid tonight vs. reigning MVP

Updated 5:28 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid will play tonight as the Sixers need all hands on deck to defend Russell Westbrook.

The big man's status was uncertain leading up to the game because of back tightness. Embiid missed Sunday's game against the Pelicans with the issue but played a career-high 39 minutes on Tuesday in the Sixers' overtime win against the Timberwolves. 

Embiid was on the court after shootaround draining threes barefoot. He commonly puts up shots without shoes.

The Sixers will require a total team effort against Westbrook. They will have their top perimeter defender Robert Covington back in the lineup after he missed the last two games with a lower back contusion.

Brett Brown will try different looks on Westbrook, but one thing is already known: There's no clear-cut formula to contain the reigning MVP. 

"Russell Westbrook demands a team to guard him," Brett Brown said Thursday. "He comes at you with such cocky aggression. How about the athlete that we're seeing and the mentality of that athlete? It is bizarre to me. That is a fierce, competitive person that just doesn't seem to get tired ... He's amazing to me. He really is amazing to me." 

Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game this season. All those stats don't really project much considering he's capable of going off for 30, 40 points any given night. He scored 30-plus points in three of his last five games. 

Even though the Thunder are below .500 (13-14), the Sixers are not ignoring the offseason additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Veteran scorers cannot be overlooked, regardless of a team's record heading into the game. 

"[Westbrook] is a special player in our league and he's going to be tough to contain one-on-one so it's going to be a group effort tonight," T.J. McConnell said. "Even with the other two, Carmelo and Paul George, it takes a team and following your principles and playing hard. That's all you can really do." 

• The Sixers will wear their red Statement Edition uniforms tonight for the first time. The jerseys were designed to reflect the history of the franchise and the city of Philadelphia. "Sixers" is written in cursive for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

• The Sixers are unveiling a sculpture of Maurice Cheeks in front of their training complex in Camden. Cheeks is now an assistant coach for the Thunder. The point guard was a member of the 1983 championship team and earned four All-Star selections with the Sixers. Cheeks' sculpture will join those of Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham already on "76ers Legends Walk."