Sixers Hold Off Timberwolves in Joel Embiid’s Return
Returning home and getting your MVP back is a strong recipe for success.
After a season-long six-game road trip, the Sixers returned to the Wells Fargo Center and took care of business Saturday night against the Timberwolves in a 122-113 win in Joel Embiid’s return to the lineup.
The Sixers played well in Embiid’s absence, going 7-3 in the games the All-Star center missed, including 4-2 on their trip. The win improves them to 34-15 and into a tie with the Brooklyn Nets for the top spot in the East.
With Embiid coming back, the Sixers got off to a bit of a slow start on both ends. Tobias Harris, who carried a heavy load offensively with Embiid out, had the hot hand early. Despite Harris’ 11 points, the Sixers trailed the Timberwolves 29-26 after one.
In the second, Embiid and Shake Milton (9 points in the quarter) got going, allowing the Sixers to take a lead as large as 10. Minnesota’s dangerous duo of Karl-Anthony Towns (17 points) and reigning Rookie of the Month Anthony Edwards (16 points) fought to get the Timberwolves back in it.
Embiid and Towns both exchanged highlight-reel plays. Towns posterized Embiid, something that clearly fired Towns up given their recent history. A few minutes later, Embiid hit Towns with a crossover followed by a circus and-one shot.
The trio of Embiid, Harris and Ben Simmons combined for 40 points, allowing the Sixers to take a 64-60 lead at the half. It was a tightly officiated first half as both teams took at least 20 free throws. It’s no surprise that Embiid led the way there, going 9 of 13.
The Sixers came out of the locker room buzzing. They went on a 13-0 run to start the third and built their lead up to 17. The Timberwolves didn’t score a point until there was 7:45 left in the period. Offensively, it was Seth Curry that got going, scoring nine of his 13 points.
Towns (game-high 39 points) and Edwards (27 points) did their best to keep Minnesota close. The Timberwolves got the game to within four points in the fourth, but it was Harris again coming through in the clutch to help the Sixers close the game. He scored 12 of his team-high 32 points in the final quarter.
Embiid, who was playing with a brace on his left knee, was solid in his return. The All-Star center went for 24 points, eight rebounds and three blocks (a trio of unreal stops on Edwards at the rim) in under 29 minutes. Simmons added 14 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Simmons also had just one turnover.
The Sixers are right back at it on Sunday as they welcome Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies to the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid’s status for that game is still unknown.