Embiid delivers ninth win from 76ers' past 10 games, Suns get back on track
The Philadelphia 76ers have now won nine of their past 10 games after Joel Embiid overpowered the San Antonio Spurs in a 137-125 road victory on Friday.
Embiid, who is leading the league in scoring at 33.5 points per game, put together what seemed like an effortless 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He also added 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
His 1.1 steals per game this season are tied for his career-high, while Embiid is also one of six players averaging at least one steal and one block per game, joining Anthony Davis, Kristaps Porzingis, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jaden McDaniels and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The 76ers took control of the game with a 47-point second quarter, jumping ahead by 12 at half-time, and the margin never got any closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Embiid was supported well by Tyrese Maxey off the bench with 25 points (eight-of-15 shooting) in 27 minutes, while James Harden finished with 16 points (four-of-10) and eight assists.
For the Spurs, it was an impressive showing from first-round rookie Malaki Branham as he scored a career-high 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting, just two days after setting a career-high of 22 points (nine-of-13) against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
With the win, the 76ers improved to 34-17 – the fourth-best record in the NBA.
Suns resurgence continues
The Phoenix Suns (28-26) have climbed back into the Western Conference's top-six after a strong 106-94 road win against the league-leading Boston Celtics (37-16).
Phoenix's season was on life support a couple of weeks ago as they collected only two wins from a 14-game stretch while both Devin Booker and Chris Paul sat out with injuries, but Paul's return has ignited a 7-2 run from their past nine.
Against the Celtics, Paul led both teams with a game-high eight assists to go with 15 points (six-of-15) and six rebounds, while Mikal Bridges's 25 points on nine-of-20 shooting led the Suns in scoring.
It was a night to forget for Celtics MVP candidate Jayson Tatum, shooting just three-of-15 from the field.
Pacers claim bragging rights over trade partner
In a clash between All-Stars who swapped places last season, it was Buddy Hield leading the Indiana Pacers to a 107-104 home win against the Sacramento Kings.
These teams engaged in one of the biggest trades of the 2021-22 campaign when the Pacers sent Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings for point guard Tyrese Haliburton and Hield, with Sabonis and Haliburton both earning All-Star nods this season on their new teams.
But it was Hield rising to the occasion against his former side, scoring a team-high 21 points on eight-of-15 shooting while also collecting his third double-double of the season with 10 rebounds, and his six assists were his most since October.