Embiid says 76ers should be thinking playoffs
Harden scores 40 as Rockets top Raptors
NEW YORK — Joel Embiid is no longer just trusting the process. Now he’s talking about the playoffs.
Embiid scored 20 points and the Philadelphia 76ers earned their 10th victory to match their total from all last season, beating the Brooklyn Nets 105-95 on Sunday.
The 76ers broke it open with a 17-2 surge in the fourth quarter to win the matchup between the NBA’s two worst teams and improve to 10-25 in their first season with former lottery picks Embiid and Dario Saric. They were 10-72 in 2015-16, just off their own record for worst finish in the 82-game schedule.
Embiid has looked at the standings and seen the 76ers are eight games back of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and believes that should be a goal.
“I think we have a chance. We’ve been hot lately,” he said. “We’ve won three out of four lately, so I look at it and I think we have a chance and we’re really figuring things out. We’re starting to learn how to win games.”
Embiid did his damage without even reaching the 28-minute restriction he was limited to as he recovers from a series of foot injuries that delayed his NBA debut for two years. He left the court to chants of “Trust the Process!” in a nod to what he and others reminded fans while the Sixers lost big during Sam Hinkie’s rebuilding plan.
Even as the victories come, coach Brett Brown said the building process remains most important.
“We are winning basketball games more frequently than we have been, but for us it’s still, how are we doing what we do?” Brown said. “Are we doing our job? Are we not skipping steps? Are we putting in good days? And we believe as simple as that might sound that they will add up.”
CAVS 120, SUNS 116: In Phoenix, LeBron James scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter for Cleveland, which led by as many as 22 in the first half and 20 early in the third quarter.
The Suns tied it late in the third and got within one in the fourth but never took the lead. Eric Bledsoe scored 31 points for the Suns.
WARRIORS 117, KINGS 106: In Sacramento, Calif., Stephen Curry made five 3-pointers and scored 30 points for Golden State which took its first lead midway through the third quarter on the way to the win. With their 17th straight victory after a loss, the Warriors reached 124 straight regular-season games without suffering back-to-back defeats.
Sacramento’s Rudy Gay scored 15 of his 23 points in the first quarter.
CLIPPERS 98, HEAT 86: In Los Angeles, J.J. Redick scored 25 points and the Clippers beat Miami for their fourth straight victory. Goran Dragic scored 24 points, and Hassan Whiteside had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Miami.
ROCKETS 129, RAPTORS 122: In Toronto, James Harden had 40 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his 10th triple-double of the season, and Houston beat the Raptors for its eighth straight victory.
DeMar DeRozan had 36 points for the Raptors, setting a career high with his 18th 30-plus-point game of the season.
WIZARDS 107, BUCKS 101: In Milwaukee, Bradley Beal scored 26 points and Markieff Morris added 20 points with 10 rebounds, leading the Wizards. Jabari Parker led Milwaukee with 28 points. Malcolm Brogdon finished with a career-high 22 points.
GRIZZLIES 88, JAZZ 79: In Memphis, Tenn., Mike Conley had 19 points and nine assists, and Marc Gasol scored 17 points to help lead the Grizzlies over Utah. Zach Randolph finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds as Memphis won its second straight.
Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 22 points.
LAKERS 111, MAGIC 95: In Los Angeles, Julius Randle scored 19 points and rookie Brandon Ingram matched his career high with 17 in the first time in their last 30 games that the Lakers put together consecutive victories. Serge Ibaka, Evan Founier and Nikola Vucevic each scored 19 points to lead Orlando. The Magic dropped their third straight.
PISTONS 125, TRAIL BLAZERS 124 (2OT): In Portland, Ore., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds left in the second extra period, and the Pistons made it hold up in a game postponed a day because of a winter storm. Reggie Jackson led Detroit with 31 points. C.J. McCollum poured in 35 points and Allen Crabbe added a career-high 30 for Portland.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (21) dunks against the Nets during Sunday’s game. The 76ers won 105-95 to improve to 10-25 this season, a year after going 10-72.