Joel Embiid unleashed a spectacular 53-point performance Sunday to power the Philadelphia 76ers over Charlotte 131-113, becoming the first NBA player with multiple 50-point games this season.
The 28-year-old Cameroonian 7-footer (2.13 meters) made 20-of-32 shots from the floor, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 11-of-11 from the free throw line and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“He made scoring look easy tonight,” said three-time NBA scoring champion James Harden, who had 19 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds.
“He was in attack mode the entire game… His jump shot was falling. He had an aggressive night.”
Embiid, who scored a career-high 59 points last month in a victory over Utah, became only the third 76ers player to achieve multiple 50-point games in a season, joining Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain.
“I’m just happy I’m contributing when we’re winning,” Embiid said.
It was left for teammates to put his feats in perspective for the 76ers (14-12).
“It has been amazing to watch,” said Montrezl Harrell.
“He’s a skilled player. He does so many things for our team on the offensive end of the floor and defensively as well,” he added.
“For him to come out and have a dominant game on both ends of the floor just shows you how great a player he is.”
Zion Williamson scored 35 points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to their seventh consecutive triumph, defeating Phoenix 129-124 in overtime to stay atop the Western Conference.
C.J. McCollum added 29 points for New Orleans (18-8), while Deandre Ayton led the Suns (16-11) with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Phoenix’s Chris Paul made a jumper with four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to pull the Suns level at 117-117 and force extra time. But McCollum had four points in a 10-2 Pelicans’ overtime run to grab the victory.
LeBron James had 35 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Anthony Davis contributed 34 points 15 rebounds and seven assists to power the Los Angeles Lakers over host Detroit 124-117.
“It was a must win for us. We knew that,” Davis said. “We stayed resilient and kept fighting.”
Bojan Bogdanovic had a game-high 38 points for the NBA-worst Pistons (7-22).
Hawks win at buzzer
The night’s most incredible finish came in Atlanta, where 19-year-old rookie A.J. Griffin caught an inbounds pass from Jalen Johnson, twisted his body, shot the ball from the paint and made the game-winning basket at the buzzer in overtime to deliver the Hawks a 123-122 victory over Chicago.
“Coach drew up a great play and JJ, that was a great pass,” Griffin said.
Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench to lead Atlanta with 28 points, while Trae Young added 19 points and 14 assists and Griffin had 17 points.
DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 34 points and 13 rebounds.
Jalen Green scored 30 points to lead host Houston’s 97-92 triumph over Milwaukee, despite the Bucks getting 25 points from Jrue Holiday plus 16 points and 18 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks saw the NBA’s second-best record slide to 19-7, 1.5 games behind Eastern Conference leader Boston, while the Western Conference doormat Rockets improved to 8-18.
Germany’s Franz Wagner scored 23 points and 2022 NBA Draft top pick Paolo Banchero added 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic in a 111-99 home victory over Toronto.
R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle each delivered 27 points to lead the New York Knicks over visiting Sacramento 112-99.
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