76ers star Joel Embiid returns from long COVID battle, drops 42 points in 2OT loss to Timberwolves

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  • Minnesota Timberwolves
    Minnesota Timberwolves
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  • Philadelphia 76ers
    Philadelphia 76ers
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  • Joel Embiid
    Joel Embiid
    Cameroonian basketball player

Joel Embiid certainly made the most of his first game in weeks after a lengthy battle dealing with COVID-19.

It just wasn’t enough to lift the Philadelphia 76ers past the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Embiid dropped 42 points and had 14 rebounds in his first outing after missing nine games, but the Timberwolves edged out a wild 121-120 win in double overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.

Embiid hasn’t played since the 76ers’ win against the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 6, when he put up 30 points and 16 rebounds. He entered the league’s health and safety protocols just two days later, and hasn’t played since.

“I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Embiid said after the game. “It was that bad. I’m just thankful to be sitting here. I struggled with it, but I’m just glad that I got over it and I’m just here just doing what I love with some good people.”

Embiid has averaged 21.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in nine games so far this season. The team lost five straight immediately after he was sidelined, but has split their last four. The Timberwolves are fresh off a 17-point loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, which snapped a five-game win streak of their own.

Embiid ended his night with 42 points after shooting 12-of-23 from the field and 16-of-21 from the free throw line.

Timberwolves survive wild 2OT battle

The 76ers rallied out of a 15-point hole at halftime — thanks to a huge defensive stand in the third that allowed just 16 points — and forced the extra period while holding Minnesota without a field goal in the final minute.

The Timberwolves nearly pulled it off in the extra period, though, as D’Angelo Russell hit a clutch contested 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Up by three, Minnesota opted to foul and sent Tyrese Maxey to the line — who missed his second shot on purpose to set up the perfect tip-in from Andre Drummond to extend the game.

It wasn’t until Naz Reid went on a solo 4-0 run — which he only accomplished after Russell stole a pass from Maxey — that Minnesota was finally able to end the game and take the one-point win. Embiid got one final look with just less than four seconds left, but he couldn’t get a clean look off.

Tobias Harris added 17 points to go with Embiid’s 42 in the loss, and had nine rebounds. Maxey finished with 15 points and nine assists.

Russell led Minnesota with 35 points while shooting 6-of-10 from behind the arc, and Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. The Timberwolves shot an even 50% from the field in the win, and out-rebounded Philadelphia by 10.

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