Embiid lifts Sixers past Hornets
PHILADELPHIA – 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 night. 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.
JAZZ 123, CELTICS 115
In Salt Lake City, Joe Ingles matched his career high with 27 points and added a season-high seven assists to help Utah beat Boston in Gordon Hayward's return to Utah.
Hayward had 13 points and seven assists in his first game back in Utah since leaving the Jazz in free agency after the 2016-17 season. He broke his left ankle last season in the opener.
Donovan Mitchell added 21 points for Utah, Jae Crowder had 20, and Rudy Gobert finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Terry Rozier scored 22 points for Boston, and Jayson Tatum had 21.
PACERS 110, HEAT 102
In Miami, Victor Oladipo had 22 points and 10 assists, Bojan Bogdanovic put Indiana ahead to stay on a 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining and the Pacers beat Miami.
Domantas Sabonis and Darren Collison each scored 17 points, and Bogdanovic had 16 to help the Pacers snap a two-game slide. The Pacers outscored Miami 16-2 in the final 3:31.