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Monday, June 24, 2024

Embiid scores 30 as Sixers extend win streak

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Joel Embiid scored 30 points to lead the resurgent Philadelphia 76ers to a fourth straight victory with a 116-96 defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Embiid returned from a two-month injury layoff on Tuesday to help the Sixers upset the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 30-year-old forward followed that up with a 29-point performance in Thursday’s win at Miami, and then led Saturday’s rout of Memphis on the road.

Against Memphis, the Sixers were into their stride quickly, leading from early in the first quarter to complete a wire-to-wire victory.

Embiid, who was rested for most of the fourth quarter with victory assured, finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

The win saw Philadelphia improve to 43-35 to remain eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Prior to Embiid’s injury in January, the Sixers were safely embedded in the upper reaches of the standings, firmly on course for an automatic playoff spot.

However, in Embiid’s absence, the Sixers slid down the standings and are now in line to fight through the play-in tournament following the conclusion of regular season play on April 14.

– Lakers, Nuggets win –

In other games on Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers bagged a fourth straight win with an impressive 116-97 blowout against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who sit in third place in the East.

Point guard D’Angelo Russell led the Lakers scorers with 28 points while LeBron James posted 24 and Anthony Davis had 22 points with 13 rebounds.

The Lakers performance was yet further evidence that head coach Darvin Ham’s team are rounding into form at the right time of the season.

The Lakers have now won nine of their last 10 games, and are still in with a chance of forcing their way into the automatic playoff spots.

As things stand, the Lakers are eighth in the West with a 45-33 record, just behind seventh-placed New Orleans (45-32) and Phoenix, who occupy the sixth playoff spot with a 46-31 record.

Lakers coach Ham said his team were preoccupied with the quality of their performance rather than dwelling on where they may fit into the postseason picture.

“We’ve been saying it to ourselves every day — whether it’s a game day or a non-game day, just take care of ourselves, take care of us,” Ham said.

“Everything else will take care of itself and we’ll fall in the spot where we are supposed to fall.

“But the key is for us to be playing at a high level on both sides of the ball. You saw that on the defensive end tonight; when we take care of the ball, we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets returned to the top of the Western Conference with a 142-110 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.

Nikola Jokic bagged his 25th triple double of the season with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

Denver are locked in a nip-and-tuck battle at the top of the West for the conference’s No.1 seeding. The Nuggets lead the standings at 54-24, just half a game ahead of Minnesota, who are second with 53-24. Oklahoma City are third with a 52-25 record.

Elsewhere Saturday, the Brooklyn Nets overturned a 19-point second quarter deficit to deny Detroit of what would have been only their 14th win of the season.

Brooklyn completed a 113-103 win thanks to a fourth quarter blitz that saw them outscore the Pistons, 38-20.

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