Joel Embiid scored a season-high 51 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Wednesday to accomplish feats unseen for more than a half-century as the Philadelphia 76ers beat NBA-best Minnesota 127-113.
The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player sparked the Sixers (19-8) to their seventh victory in eight games and snapped the four-game win streak of the Western Conference-leading Timberwolves, who slipped to 20-6.
Embiid became the first NBA player with 12 consecutive games of 30 or more points and 10 or more rebounds since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972.
He also became the first 76er since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967 with three consecutive games of 40 or more points and 10 or more rebounds.
“He does it every night so consistently,” 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey said of Embiid. “We expect it of him and he goes out there and performs every single night.”
Embiid, the NBA’s top scorer at 34.4 points per game, said the triumph avenged a loss at Minnesota last month when he was unable to play due to a hip injury.
“That’s one of the best teams in the league and the best in the West,” Embiid said. “We felt like we had to get them back and I’m glad everybody just showed up.
“To start the third quarter, we had some rough patches, but we stuck together and we kept pushing and we got the win.”
The 29-year-old Cameroonian 7-footer (2.13m) lifted the Sixers to their biggest lead in the final minutes.
Embiid scored 20 points in the first half, 19 more in the third quarter and completed the seventh 50-point performance of his career — and second of the season — on a jumper with 1:46 remaining.
Embiid made 17-of-25 shots from the floor and 17-of-18 free throws while adding three assists, two steals and a blocked shot in humbling the NBA’s top defensive team and its big men, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Maxey added 35 points for the 76ers, forming a deadly duo with Embiid and taking up the scoring slack when the MVP was resting.
“All-Star starter,” Embiid said of Maxey. “He has been doing that all season. Just give him the ball and he has been carrying us every single fourth quarter. You see what happens when he’s impressive.”
“He believes in me,” Maxey said. “I go out there and try to put in the work and help him as much as I possibly can.”
Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 27 points while Towns had 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Celtics topple Kings
The Boston Celtics took over the NBA’s best record, improving to 21-6 with a 144-119 victory at Sacramento to snap the Kings’ four-game win streak.
The Celtics, without top scorer and rebounder Jayson Tatum due to a left ankle sprain, were led by 28 points each by Jaylen Brown and Derrick White while De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento with 29.
The Los Angeles Clippers stretched their win streak to nine games with a 120-111 victory at Dallas as Kawhi Leonard had 30 points and 10 rebounds and James Harden added 17 points and 11 assists.
Two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic scored 31 points and added 15 rebounds and six assists as reigning champion Denver won 113-104 at Toronto.
DeMar DeRozan had 27 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to spark Chicago over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 124-108.
LeBron James had 25 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who had 19 points and 14 rebounds from Anthony Davis.
Julius Randle scored 26 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 23 to lead the New York Knicks over Brooklyn 121-102 while reserve Sam Merrill’s 27 points led host Cleveland over Utah 124-116.
Trae Young’s 30 points and 14 assists led Atlanta’s 134-127 victory at Houston while Tyler Herro had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to spark Miami’s 115-106 victory at Orlando.
Buddy Hield scored 25 points and Tyrese Haliburton added 19 points and 13 assists in Indiana’s 144-113 home win over Charlotte.
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