Despite losing All-Star Joel Embiid to a facial contusion early in the second quarter, the Philadelphia 76ers pulled away in the second half Wednesday night to hand the New York Knicks a 118-101 loss at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Embiid was injured on the first play of the second quarter. Setting a screen on a dribble handoff to rookie Markelle Fultz, Embiid dropped the ball and was struck by Fultz's shoulder as he reached down to grab it, doubling over on the floor in pain. He left the floor and didn't return, finishing with five points and three rebounds in just nine minutes.
Without Embiid, the 76ers used balance to win their 44th game and stay within a half-game of Cleveland for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Six players finished in double figures, led by Dario Saric with a game-high 26 points and 14 rebounds.
JJ Redick added 21 points, while Robert Covington hit for 17 and reserve Richaun Holmes chipped in 15. Ben Simmons stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 13 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 14 points.
Michael Beasley and reserve Emmanuel Mudiay paced New York with 22 points each. Trey Burke scored 18 points, while center Enes Kanter contributed a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Defense appeared to be optional for most of the first half. Philadelphia roared out to a 20-12 lead less than six minutes into the game on a putback by Embiid, and ended the period with a 37-28 advantage as Fultz drilled a pull-up with 32.8 seconds left.
The Knicks fought back in a second quarter where the teams combined for another 65 points. Two foul shots by Mudiay gave them a 61-60 edge with 1:49 left, but the 76ers scored the next seven points, getting a 3-ball from Redick to grab a 67-63 lead at the half.
Philadelphia clamped down defensively in the third quarter, limiting New York to 17 points as it took control of the game. Holmes' putback dunk with 23.8 seconds remaining gave the 76ers a 93-80 cushion entering the fourth quarter.
--Field Level Media