All-Star Joel Embiid scored a career-high 50 points in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 112-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday, while Jamal Murray mirrored the effort for the Denver Nuggets.
Embiid added 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals in a dominating performance at both ends.
Tobias Harris had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers.
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY
They played without Ben Simmons (illness) for the second straight game and clinched coaching duties for Doc Rivers at the All-Star Game.
Zach LaVine scored 30 points for the Bulls.
With the 76ers clinging to a 107-103 lead, Embiid blocked LaVine’s driving attempt with 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining, then hit a baseline jumper with 41 seconds left.
Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY
When the Bulls called a timeout, Embiid jogged to center court and put both hands up as if requesting cheers from the empty seats while the speakers played “MVP” chants.
In Cleveland, Ohio, Murray scored 50 points, also a career-high, while All-Star starter Nikola Jokic had a triple-double as Denver adjusted to a schedule change by handing the Cleveland Cavaliers their ninth straight loss in a matchup hastily arranged by the NBA as the schedule was rejigged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murray hardly missed, making 21 of 25 shots, including eight of 10 three-pointers.
“Once I saw a few go down it just took off from there,” Murray said.
He did not attempt a free throw.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in the league’s history to score 50 or more points without shooting a free throw.
“It’s kind of cool to make history. It’s a cool stat,” Murray said.
With the Cavs still hanging around in the fourth, Murray made three three-pointers in 1:05 to push Denver’s lead to 21.
He scored 20 points in the final quarter before being replaced with 2:23 left.
Jokic, on his 26th birthday, had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season.
Collin Sexton scored 23 points and Jarrett Allen had 20 for Cleveland.
CLIPPERS 116, JAZZ 112
In Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, Lou Williams had 19 and Los Angeles ended Utah’s winning streak at nine games.
The Clippers avenged an 18-point loss to Utah two nights earlier, when starters Leonard, Paul George and Nicolas Batum were sidelined.
George had 15 points in his return from a toe injury.
Donovan Mitchell scored 29 of his 35 points in the second half for the NBA-leading Jazz.
They lost for the second time in 22 games.
SUNS 132, PELICANS 114
In New Orleans, Chris Paul had 15 points and a season-high 19 assists, spearheading an 11-point, fourth-quarter comeback in Phoenix’s victory over New Orleans.
Paul, who rose to stardom with New Orleans after being drafted fourth overall in 2005, appeared to be gesturing that he owned the arena after hitting a step-back three that gave Phoenix a 118-107 lead with less than five minutes to go.
The Suns outscored the Pelicans 41-12 in the final quarter.
Paul’s decisive three, his third of the game, was one of 22 that the Suns hit from deep on 39 attempts (56.4 percent).
Jae Crowder hit six threes on his way to 20 points, while Frank Kaminsky made five for the bulk of his 17 points.
Devin Booker scored 23 points to help the Suns rebound from a tough home loss to Brooklyn to win for the 10th time in 12 games.
Brandon Ingram scored 25 points for the Pelicans and Zion Williamson added 23.
They have lost five of six.
MAGIC 124, WARRIORS 120
In Orlando, Florida, Nikola Vucevic had 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double as Orlando overcame a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Golden State.
BUCKS 98, THUNDER 85
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and eight assists as Milwaukee beat Oklahoma City to snap a five-game skid.
CELTICS 121, HAWKS 109
In Boston, Kemba Walker scored a season-high 28 points as Boston held off Atlanta.
GRIZZLIES 109, PISTONS 95
In Memphis, Tennessee, Ja Morant scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half, while Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points and 15 rebounds as Memphis rallied to beat Detroit.
RAPTORS 86, TIMBERWOLVES 81
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Norman Powell scored a season-high 31 points as Toronto closed with an 11-0 run to beat Minnesota for their third straight victory.
Additional reporting by AFP
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