Let’s get the injury scare out of the way first.
Joel Embiid went up for a monster dunk in the third quarter, landed on his left foot, lay on the ground momentarily, then came up grabbing his left knee. Embiid limped off the court on his own as a gasp fell over the arena.
Embiid was diagnosed with a left knee contusion. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation when he returned to the bench minutes later. They would erupt again in the final seconds of regulation when Robert Covington nailed a go-ahead three-pointer with 4.5 left to cap a come-from-behind, 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday night.
The Sixers finished without Embiid, who returned to the game but looked as if he aggravated his knee on a fourth-quarter drive to the basket. He made a few trips up and down before Nerlens Noel subbed in for him with 8:50 to go. Embiid walked off the court in visible discomfort. The Sixers ruled him out for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons. Embiid recorded a double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes.
After the game, Embiid said he felt "great" and "everything looked good" following an MRI (see story).
So while an Embiid injury dominates any night, there was also a game played.
The Trail Blazers jumped out on the Sixers early, led by 16 points in the first quarter from Damian Lillard. The Sixers fought back from a 13-point halftime deficit to only one point (without Embiid) in the third, when they outscored the Trail Blazers, 27-15. Ersan llyasova scored 11 points in the quarter.
The fourth quarter got physical, including an exchange between former Trail Blazers teammates and fellow Duke products Gerald Henderson and Mason Plumlee. A Covington three-pointer made it a one-point Trail Blazers lead, 91-90, with 38.2 seconds to play. The biggest one came shortly later as Covington made his second game-winning shot of the season when he drained another trey from T.J. McConnell to give the Sixers another victory at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers fended off Plumlee’s final layup attempt to close it out.
The Sixers improved to 15-26 and have won eight out of their last 10 games.
Inside the box score
• Ilyasova scored a season-high 24 points.
• Covington scored 22 points, including 5 for 12 from long range.
• Lillard led all players with 30 points.
• Plumlee posted a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double.
Roster moves before game
The Sixers claimed veteran point guard Mo Williams off waivers on Friday and then waived him, according to a league source (see story). Later in the day, they re-signed Chasson Randle to a second 10-day contract (see story). His first expired on Thursday.
“Albeit new, he really adds to what we're trying to build in relation to the guys that we invite in our program,” Brett Brown said of Randle. “He's a high-character guy."
The Sixers will travel to Atlanta to play a back-to-back game against the Hawks (24-18) on Saturday.