Joel Embiid shook off an ankle injury to score 31 points and grab 10 rebounds Friday, propelling the Philadelphia 76ers to a 121-111 NBA victory over Toronto with his 13th straight game with at least 30 points and 10 boards.
Embiid, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, had plenty of support with Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris scoring 33 points apiece for the 76ers.
Embiid scored just two points in the first quarter after twisting his ankle in an awkward landing under the basket.
After a brief trip to the locker room, he finished the first half with 11 points, three rebounds, six assists and five turnovers.
Harris kept the Sixers afloat, scoring 24 first-half points to help them take a 61-58 lead at the break after the Raptors had led by as many as 15.
Embiid came alive in the third period, scoring 17 straight 76ers points in a run that included a three-pointer that put the Sixers up 90-77.
Despite the occasional grimace of discomfort, Embiid extended the NBA’s longest stretch of 30-point, 10-rebound games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 16 straight in 1971-72.
Embiid put his slow start down to lack of aggression.
“I think I took two shots in the first six or seven minutes, but I just let the game come to me,” he said. “I didn’t force anything.
“It came to me and then in the third quarter, I just found opportunities and made a few shots.”
The Raptors, led by Pascal Siakam’s 31 points, got the deficit down to three late in the third before the Sixers pulled away again.
Maxey added 10 assists and Harris added eight rebounds and seven assists to his season-high in points as the Sixers won for the eighth time in their last nine games.
Nurse said he wasn’t surprised the Sixers came out a little flat after beating Western Conference leaders Minnesota on Wednesday behind a 51-point performance from Embiid.
“It wasn’t just (Embiid),” Nurse said. “It was everybody.
“Then Joel got going … he started punching through, started making some jumpers … he just finally got in his rhythm and got the shooting going.”
Nurse said the team would keep an eye on Embiid’s ankle with a Christmas Day game at Miami coming up to start a four-game road trip.
“I’m sure it’ll be sore tomorrow,” Nurse said.
In Brooklyn, Jamal Murray scored 32 points and Nikola Jokic added 31 points with 11 rebounds as the reigning champion Denver Nuggets held off the Nets 122-117.
Aaron Gordon added 18 points and Michael Porter Jr. scored 15 for the Nuggets, who won their third straight.
Cam Thomas led the Nets with 23 points. Cameron Johnson added 17 as seven Brooklyn players scored in double figures.
The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings notched convincing home victories.
Warriors star Stephen Curry made a season-high eight three-pointers on the way to 30 points, sitting out the entire fourth quarter in a 129-118 victory over the Washington Wizards and former Warrior Jordan Poole.
Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis had his fourth triple-double of the season with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to help the Kings to a 120-105 victory over the Phoenix Suns, who were led by 28 points from Kevin Durant.
Houston’s Alperen Sengun scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Rockets’ 122-96 thrashing of the injury-hit Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs were without their star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, as well as Dereck Lively, Dante Exum, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber.
In Miami, Tyler Herro scored 30 points and Duncan Robinson added 21 of his 27 in the fourth quarter to fuel the Heat in a 122-113 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
The Heat, who trailed by 11 early in the third quarter, withstood a 30-point, 13-assist double-double from Atlanta’s Trae Young, his sixth straight game with at least 30 points and 10 assists.
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