Em­biid scores 42, 76ers top Hor­nets in OT

The Maui News - - SPORTS -

PHILADEL­PHIA (AP) — Joel Em­biid re­peat­edly stepped to the free-throw line with one thought in mind dur­ing crit­i­cal mo­ments of the Philadel­phia 76ers’ over­time vic­tory over the Char­lotte Hor­nets.

“Got to make them,” Em­biid said. “They call me ‘clutch’ for a rea­son, so got to make them.”

Em­biid was 14-for-16 from the line be­tween the fourth quar­ter and over­time to help ice the 76ers’ 133-132 vic­tory Fri­day. He had 42 points and 18 re­bounds.

The Hor­nets fought back from a 21-point deficit and led by five with 1:18 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion be­fore the Six­ers forced ex­tra time. Kemba Walker scored 19 of his 30 points in the fourth quar­ter for the Hor­nets.

Em­biid chal­lenged the Hor­nets’ de­fense as they at­tempted a come­back vic­tory and fo­cused on draw­ing con­tact. Hor­nets start­ing cen­ter Cody Zeller fouled out in reg­u­la­tion af­ter com­mit­ting five fouls in the fourth.

“It’s tough keep­ing him off the free-throw line just be­cause he is so phys­i­cal,” Zeller said. “He can shoot it from three, play off the drib­ble, he’s ob­vi­ously a wide body in the post, so those are the tough­est guys to de­fend that can play kind of play at ev­ery spot on the court.”

Em­biid thrives on get­ting to the line, where he is shoot­ing 81.8 per­cent, up from 76.9 per­cent last sea­son. He has earned the con­fi­dence of the Six­ers to ag­gres­sively seek out shots there.

“He’s a re­ally good shooter any­ways and he’s con­fi­dent by na­ture, so that’s a pretty good col­li­sion of skill and mind,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “You trust him go­ing to the line and shoot­ing a high per­cent­age. He’s not afraid of the mo­ment.”

Em­biid’s ex­e­cu­tion down the stretch left the Hor­nets search­ing for an­swers on de­fense.

“I thought our bigs were great,” Hor­nets coach James Bor­rego said. “They bat­tled him. I thought they were fan­tas­tic de­fen­sively. They tried to beat him to spots. I don’t know what to tell them when Em­biid shoots 16 free throws in the fourth quar­ter and over­time, I don’t know what to say to them.”

To Em­biid, the abun­dance of free-throw at­tempts were all in a day’s work.

“That’s my job,” he said. “I’ve got to step up when there’s an op­por­tu­nity.”

Ben Sim­mons had 22 points, 13 as­sists and eight re­bounds for the 76ers, who im­proved to 7-0 at the Wells Fargo Cen­ter, the most home wins to start the sea­son since 2002-03.

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