Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a 138-94 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, giving LeBron James the most lopsided loss of his 21-year NBA career.

Tyrese Maxey complemented Embiid's sixth career triple-double with 31 points and eight assists, and the 76ers dominated from the 3-point line to also record their largest margin of victory in 290 all-time regular-season meetings with the Lakers.

James' previous worst loss came by 42 points, a 136-94 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 5, 2019, in his first season with the Lakers. The NBA's all-time leading scorer finished with 18 points and five assists but failed to register a rebound.

Philadelphia finished 22 of 46 from 3-point range compared to 7 of 28 for Los Angeles, which trailed by double digits since late in the first quarter and were outscored by a whopping 40-14 margin in the fourth despite the 76ers resting Embiid and fellow starters Tobias Harris and De'Anthony Melton the entire period.

Anthony Davis ended with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who have dropped two of three since a 6-1 stretch from Nov. 10-21.

Nuggets handle Clippers despite Jokic resting

DeAndre Jordan filled in well for a resting Nikola Jokić as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 113-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Jordan posted 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists starting in place of Jokic, who was held out with Denver playing for the second consecutive night. Reggie Jackson had 13 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nuggets back from an 11-point deficit to start the period.

Jackson, who spent parts of four seasons with the Clippers before being traded away in February, added 13 assists. Jordan played his first 10 NBA seasons with Los Angeles from 2008-18.

The Nuggets trailed 88-77 after three quarters before outscoring the Clippers by a 36-16 margin in the fourth. They went ahead for good when Jackson capped a 15-2 run to start the period with a short floater that gave Denver a 92-90 lead with under 7 1/2 minutes left.

Los Angeles, which had won four of five following a 3-7 start, went just 4 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter and got just six points on 2-of-13 shooting from star Paul George.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 31 points and eight rebounds, while Ivica Zubac recorded 23 points and 14 boards. 

Wizards halt nine-game losing streak, extend Pistons' skid to 14

Kyle Kuzma compiled 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Washington Wizards to a 126-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of the NBA's two worst teams.

Washington, which entered the game with an identical 2-14 record to Detroit, halted a nine-game losing streak. The Pistons have now lost 14 consecutive games, tied for the longest skid in franchise history within a single season.

The Wizards led by just one early in the third quarter before Kuzma took over, as the veteran forward scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting for the period to help extend Washington's advantage to 94-83 entering the fourth.

Washington maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way while shooting 50.6 per cent from the field for the game. Deni Avdija and Danilo Gallinari each contributed 16 points to the victory.

Cade Cunningham led Detroit with 26 points and seven assists, while Jalen Duren finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.



Joel Embiid had 35 points and fell one assist shy of a triple-double and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped the Oklahoma City Thunder’s six-game winning streak with a 127-123 victory on Saturday.

Embiid had 11 rebounds and nine assists while making 19 of 21 free throws, including six in the final 9.8 seconds to seal the win.

Tyrese Maxey had 28 points and eight rebounds and Tobias Harris added 16 points to help the 76ers avoid a third straight loss.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points for the Thunder, who lost their fourth straight at home to Philadelphia.

Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey had 10 points, seven boards and eight assists in his first game after the NBA started an investigation into accusations he had an improper relationship with an underage girl.


LeBron helps Lakers win in Cleveland

Anthony Davis scored 23 of his season-high 32 points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds and LeBron James had 22 points against his hometown team as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 121-115.

James added six rebounds, six assists and two steals in his 18th career win against Cleveland in 21 games. The 39-year-old superstar attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in nearby Akron and spent 11 seasons with the Cavaliers, leading them to the 2016 NBA title.

Austin Reaves added 15 points and 10 assists as the Lakers won their fourth in five games overall and third straight on the road.

Donovan Mitchell had 22 points on 4-of-18 shooting in his return aft4er missing four games with a right hamstring strain for Cleveland.

Cavaliers guard Darius Garland did not play in the second half due to a neck strain, caused by an awkward collision with Max Christie in the first quarter.


George leads Clippers past Mavericks

The Los Angeles Clippers received little production from two of their stars, but Paul George had 25 points and Terance Mann added 17 in a 107-88 rout of the Dallas Mavericks.

James Harden was limited to eight points on 2-of-8 shooting and Kawhi Leonard missed his first nine shots before also finishing with eight points.

Russell Westbrook helped with 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Clippers won their fourth in five games.

Luka Dončić scored 30 points and Kyrie Irving added 26 for Dallas, which failed to score 100 points for the first time this season.

Tyrese Maxey said his career-high points total was for his Philadelphia Sixers teammate Kelly Oubre Jr.

Maxey had 50 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Sunday's 137-126 victory over the Indian Pacers, as the Sixers moved to 8-1 for the season.

The Sixers won the game without Oubre Jr, who was struck by a vehicle on Saturday. The 27-year-old suffered a fractured rib, and is set to miss a significant amount of the season.

And Maxey, who has become a regular starter following James Harden's move to the Los Angeles Clippers, paid tribute to his teammate following his game-winning turn against the Pacers.

"This had nothing to do with me," Maxey said. "This is all Kelly Oubre. We're praying for him. Love my dawg [sic]. I just met him, but I love him. I hope he gets well soon."

Maxey added that reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid had been pushing for him to score big.

"Joel wanted me to get 50 more than even I did," Maxey quipped.

"When he gave me the ball, he said, 'You are going to shoot this basketball.' And that's why I appreciate my teammates, my coaches and the fans. It was a great night and we got the win, which is what matters most."

The 76ers have made their best start to a season since 2000-01.

"We are playing together and trusting each other," Embiid said.

"It may look like we didn't play defense tonight, but [Indiana] plays so fast, it's incredible with the pace. So they are going to score a lot, but we just competed. We lowered our guard for a bit, but we had Tyrese to help close it out."

On Oubre Jr, Embiid added: "The game today, I'm sure Tyrese was thinking about it and we were all thinking about it.

"We just want [Oubre] to take his time, recover and know that we have his back. He's needed because he's a big part of us. We missed him tonight, but he should take his time."

James Harden hit out at the Philadelphia 76ers in his introductory media briefing as a Los Angeles Clippers player, resulting in Joel Embiid biting back.

Harden completed a move to the Clippers earlier this week, having fallen out of favour with the leadership in Philadelphia.

The 10-time All-Star broke the assists record last season as Philadelphia went on to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals, which they lost to the Boston Celtics.

Harden joined the 76ers after an unhappy stint with the Brooklyn Nets, but in August he criticised Philadelphia's president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who he branded "a liar".

In his first appearance in front of the media since his move to Los Angeles, Harden was asked where it went wrong.

"Changing my role, which media [felt] is ball dominant, which my ball dominance is really effective," he said. "Changing my role, trying to change the narrative, trying to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to win at the highest level. That's not talked about. It's the other BS.

"So me leaving Brooklyn and thinking I'm going to retire as a Sixer, and the front office had other plans. They didn't want me. There's a lot of narratives and people think they have an opinion. But none of that is true.

"[They kept me] on a leash. I think the game and I'm a creator on the court. So if I got a voice to where I can, 'Hey, Coach, I see this. What d'you think about this?' Somebody who trusts me, that believes in me, that understands me. I'm not a system player. I am a system. You know what I mean?"

Harden's former teammate Embiid, who was the league's MVP last season, disagreed, though.

"I think he did a lot of great things for us," Embiid said of Harden.

"But in my opinion, we gave him the ball every single possession, because he's really good. He's an amazing player. Obviously, being that great of a passer, I think we gave him the ball.

"We'd give him the ball every single possession to just go out and, you know, do his thing. And from there he had to make decisions as far as getting guys open or looking out for himself.

"But I thought he did a pretty good job of getting us into an offense and just passing the ball, getting guys open. That's the reason why he won the assist title last year."

Embiid wishes Harden well, though.

"I'm happy that the situation got resolved, and I'm happy for him," he added.

"I hope he has a chance to succeed, make a lot of money, play good basketball and be able to win. And I hope we both make the Finals, but he's on the losing side of it and we are on the winning side of it.

"But I think when you're looking at the situation, from where it probably came from, we couldn't do anything. It was out of our control. So in that situation, you've just got to go with it.

"But I still believe we had a chance [to win together]. We were right there, especially with the team that we have right now. What he is able to add and what he has done, what we've allowed him to do, we gave the ball every single possession.

"It's unfortunate, but we've got to just move on and we've got a good group of guys that can grow and keep getting better."

Harden is set to make his Clippers bow against the New York Knicks next week.

Victor Wembanyama had the best game of his young career with 38 points and sparked a decisive fourth-quarter run as the San Antonio Spurs squandered a 27-point lead before pulling away for a 132-121 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

Wembanyama produced a handful of highlight plays in his fifth NBA game, including a flying dunk in the lane in the second quarter. The 7-foot-4 phenom shot 15 of 26 and grabbed 10 rebounds.

He hit a 3-pointer, made three free throws, dunked and hit an 18-foot jumper during a 12-0 run after the Suns erased a 27-point deficit to tie it at 116 with 4:21 remaining.

Devin Booker scored 31 points in his return from a sprained ankle and added 13 assists and nine rebounds, while Kevin Durant tallied 28 points.

The Spurs beat the Suns in Phoenix for the second time in three days after a stunning 115-114 victory on Tuesday, when they rallied from a 20-point deficit.

Embiid leads 76ers past Raptors

Joel Embiid tallied 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 114-99 win over the Toronto Raptors in their first game since trading James Harden.

Kelly Oubre Jr. had 23 points and Tyrese Maxey added 18 as Philadelphia won its third straight since a season-opening loss.

Scottie Barnes scored 24 points for the Raptors, who have lost four of five, including two losses to the 76ers in six days.

Oubre moved into the starting lineup in place of PJ Tucker, who was also dealt to the Clippers in the Harden deal.

Marcus Morris and Nic Batum did not play in their first game since they were dealt, though Robert Covington and K.J. Martin played some in the final 90 seconds with the game in hand.

Short-handed Pelicans beat Pistons

CJ McCollum poured in 33 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 23 with 13 rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a pair of key absences in a 125-116 win over the Detroit Pistons.

New Orleans had a season high in points despite playing top scorers Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.

Williamson was given the night off in the second half of a back-to-back and Ingram missed his third straight game with right knee tendinitis.

Matt Ryan made his first career start and responded with a personal-best 20 points, making the first four 3-pointers he took and finishing 6 of 8 from long range.

Cade Cunningham had 22 points and 11 assists as Detroit lost its third straight.

Joel Embiid scored 35 points as the Philadelphia 76ers cruised past the winless Portland Trail Blazers 126-98.

James Harden, who has been in dispute with the 76ers, watched on from the bench as the reigning MVP Embiid added 15 rebounds.

Tyrese Maxey also posted a double-double as he finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

The Golden State Warriors fielded Draymond Green for the first time this season as Steph Curry saw off a Houston Rockets comeback.

The Warriors, up by 16 at one point, trailed by two in the fourth quarter before Curry hit four three-pointers inside two minutes to ease them away to a 106-95 win.

Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points with Paul George and Russell Westbrook each adding 19 as the Los Angeles Clippers cruised to a 123-83 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs committed 25 turnovers, five of them from star rookie Victor Wembanyama in his first game outside San Antonio.

The closest game of the night was in Sacramento where the Kings beat the Lakers 132-127 in overtime.

The NBA champion Denver Nuggets made it three wins to start the season as Nikola Jokic scored 28 points in a routine 128-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jokic added 14 rebounds with Michael Porter Jr chipping in with 20 points.

Trae Young grabbed 20 points as eight Atlanta Hawks players reached double figures to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 127-110 for their first win of the season.

Damian Lillard, who scored 39 points in his Bucks debut on Thursday, was held to just six as Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 26 points.

Michael Carter-Williams has backed Joel Embiid to win a gold medal at the Paris Olympics, but he thinks an NBA title is out of reach for now.

Embiid was named the NBA MVP last season, having played 66 times for the Philadelphia 76ers across the regular season, averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

However, Embiid was unable to inspire the 76ers in the playoffs, as they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ahead of the new season, Cameroonian-born Embiid confirmed he would represent the United States at next year's Olympic Games, and Carter-Williams, who played alongside the center in Philadelphia between 2014 and 2015, thinks a gold medal is more than achievable for Team USA.

But he does not feel Embiid is likely to win an NBA championship with the 76ers just yet.

"I think that the gold with the United States is a way more sure bet than him winning the championship in Philly, just because they [have] got some things going on," Carter-Williams told Stats Perform.

"I believe that Embiid will get a championship in his career, I just don't know whether it's right now with Philly or if it's later on.

"There are just other teams that have made some really tough moves, I don't know how well Philly matches up with that."

The Sixers began the 2023-24 campaign with a 118-117 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks. Embiid finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in that loss.

"He's been unreal," Carter-Williams said of Embiid.

"Someone who's also an abnormal-sized human being doing those things is unreal. His focus level is also really good, he just focuses on his footwork, I always just saw him watching films of so many big [players], Hakeem Olajuwon especially.

"Then I saw him on the court just emulating those moves over and over again, and I used to see his feet and his jump shot just improve over and over again, especially through his rookie year when he was hurt, and he was sitting out and his process was slowed down a little bit.

"You could see him practice every single day, and then as soon as he started going against guys in practice, you'd be like, 'man, he's killing it' and nobody could do anything about it."

The Philadelphia 76ers' wantaway guard James Harden is just "looking to find happiness" after requesting a trade and engaging in a bitter war of words with Sixers president Daryl Morey.

That is the view of Chicago Bulls center and former Sixer Andre Drummond, who hopes Harden joins a team where he feels wanted. 

Former MVP Harden requested a trade after exercising his player option for the 2023-24 season in June, the third time he has asked for a move since leaving the Houston Rockets in January 2021.

Having grown frustrated with Morey's handling of his contract situation during the offseason, Harden labelled the Sixers president a "liar" in August, declaring: "I will never be a part of an organization that he's a part of".

Harden reportedly expected to be offered a long-term deal after Philadelphia were beaten by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. 

He has since skipped practice on two occasions as the Sixers work towards their NBA season opener, which comes on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

While some have criticised Harden's conduct, Drummond, who joined the Brooklyn Nets as part of the trade which took Harden to Philadelphia last year, has sympathy for his position.

"I don't really get into the whole gossip aspect of the NBA," Drummond told Stats Perform. "I mean, with James, it's not his first time doing this.

"I think he's just going to try to find a way to make sure that he's happy and he goes into the best situation. I don't really have much else I can say on that.

"He's just looking to find happiness, so hopefully he gets to go where he wants to."

The Sixers' hopes for 2023-24 will be carried by reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, who recently announced his intention to represent the United States at next year's Olympic Games in France. 

Embiid averaged a career-high 33.1 points to lead the NBA last season, but the 29-year-old is yet to win a championship.

Drummond, who played alongside Embiid while with the Sixers in 2021-22, believes Philadelphia need to give the center a championship-winning team sooner rather than later.

Asked about Philadelphia's title hopes, Drummond said: "I think for Joel, they have to do it now. Now's the time.

"They've waited a long time, a lot of pieces have been added to their team that maybe aren't working out. 

"I hope he does it. I hope he doesn't win against us, but I hope for the best for him. I really want him to win. I've got to play alongside him for a year and he deserves it. He works really hard."

Reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid scored 21 points in his 2023-24 preseason debut to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 120-106 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Embiid shot just 3 of 12 from the field, but went 14 of 15 from the free-throw line in the 76ers' final tune-up prior to Thursday's season opener against the Bucks in Milwaukee. The star center added five rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes.

Starting in place of the disgruntled James Harden, De'Anthony Melton contributed a game-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting to aid in the 76ers' victory. Tyrese Maxey chipped in 12 assists and three steals along with 15 points.

Harden's status for the regular season remains in question after the 2017-18 NBA MVP did not show up for team practices earlier this week. Harden requested a trade in the summer due to his displeasure over not receiving a contract extension.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 19 points and 10 assists but shot just 5 of 16 from the floor. The Hawks open their season on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.

The Bucks will also enter their showdown with the 76ers off a win, as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points and Damian Lillard had 19 in Milwaukee's 124-116 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Desmond Bane shot 5 of 9 from 3-point range and put up 24 points for Memphis, which begins its season Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans as star guard Ja Morant begins a 25-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league. 

Elsewhere on the NBA's final night of preseason games, Kyrie Irving posted a 17-point, 11-assist double-double as the Dallas Mavericks earned a 114-104 win over the Detroit Pistons. 

The Mavericks rested Luka Doncic as they prepared for Wednesday's anticipated visit to San Antonio to take on the Spurs in Victor Wembanayama's official NBA debut. Josh Green started in Doncic's place and recorded 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a 4-of-5 performance from 3-point range. 

In Houston, rookie Amen Thompson compiled 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help the Rockets to a 110-104 win over the Miami Heat.

Thompson, the No. 4 pick in this year's draft, will make his regular-season debut Wednesday when the Rockets visit the Orlando Magic.

Fred VanVleet and Jalen Green added 20 points for Houston, which also received 16 points and 12 rebounds from Alperen Sengun.

In Toronto, the Raptors completed a 4-0 preseason with a 134-98 rout of the Washington Wizards behind Scottie Barnes' 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. 

Pascal Siakam finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Toronto's final game before Wednesday's opener against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves. 


Just over a year after becoming a United States citizen, Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid has decided to play for the U.S. at next year's Olympics in France.

The reigning NBA MVP could have also played for his homeland Cameroon or France, which in July 2022 issued Embiid a French passport as “a foreigner whose naturalisation is of exceptional interest.”

“I’ve been here for a long time,” said Embiid in September 2022 after being sworn in as an American citizen.

“My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?”

Embiid and the 76ers started training camp this week after he earned his first NBA MVP award last season.

The 29-year-old averaged a career-high 33.1 points to lead the NBA while finishing seventh in the league in blocks (1.7), eighth in rebounding (10.2) and 20th in field-goal percentage (54.8).

Embiid also tied a personal best with 4.2 assists per game.

The United States is hoping more NBA superstars choose to play in France when the team will be chasing a fifth straight gold medal.

Joel Embiid may have finally been named as NBA's MVP but winning the championship with the Philadelphia 76ers would push his legacy to "new heights".

That was the message from Embiid's former team-mate Perry Ellis, who played with the 76ers star during his one-year stint of college basketball at the Kansas Jayhawks.

Embiid finished runner-up to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in the previous two seasons but claimed the MVP award this time around after leading the league with a 33.1 points-per-game average.

The six-time NBA All-Star now has his sights on a first championship of his career, attempting to end the 76ers' long-awaited road to glory since last triumphing way back in 1983.

Philadelphia lead the Boston Celtics 3-2 in their second-round playoff series and Ellis believes success for the 76ers would represent a landmark moment in Embiid's already illustrious career.

"It'll be huge for them for, legacy wise, and just for him, mentally, mindset wise, to say you got past that stage," Ellis told Stats Perform.

"We're moving forward, we're pushing to new heights, and I think that would be big for his career. And overall, mentally, I think that'll take him to the next step.

"He's an MVP now but it's even more, just taking it to another step. So I think that's what it could do."

Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were the other two frontrunners for the MVP award this year, although Embiid's late-season exploits propelled him to the individual accolade.

Doc Rivers declared the MVP race "over" after Embiid scored 52 points against the Celtics in the last week of the regular season, with Ellis revelling in his former teammate's exploits.

"Before he was so close, over the last couple of years," Ellis added. "And this year, he finally got it. I was just so excited for him, he was a teammate of mine for a year.

"Just from that little stint, I could see how much he was growing as a player and he only started playing basketball at maybe 15 years old or so.

"Everybody could see how good he can be. So I had no doubt that someday he could be that type of player."

Embiid hit 30 points for a third straight game in the last outing against the Celtics, offering the 76ers the chance to secure their first NBA Finals appearance since 2001 with victory in the next meeting on Thursday.

Joel Embiid can add an All-NBA First Team selection to his resume.

A week after being voted as the league’s most valuable player for the 2022-23 season, the Philadelphia 76ers center was named to the All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career after being selected to the All-NBA Second Team four times.

The All-NBA teams were announced Wednesday, and joining Embiid on the first team is guards Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.

The second team consists of guards Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers, forwards Jaylen Brown of the Celtics and Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat and center Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

The third team features Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and a pair of Sacramento Kings teammates in guard De’Aaron Fox and center Domantas Sabonis.

This marks James’ third time named to the All-NBA Third Team to go with three selections to the All-NBA Second Team and 13 selections to the All-NBA First Team. James’ 19 total selections are the most in NBA history and four more than his closest challengers – Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Antetokounmpo, who won the league MVP in 2018-19 and 2019-20, is on the All-NBA First Team for the fifth time, while Jokic, the league MVP the past two seasons, is on the All-NBA Second Team for the second time after being named to the All-NBA First Team three times.

Doncic’s on the All-NBA First Team for the fourth straight season, Tatum’s on it for the second year in a row and Gilgeous-Alexander is included on an All-NBA team for the first time in his five-year career.

Antetokounmpo was the only unanimous selection, appearing on all 100 ballots, while Tatum received 92 first-team votes. Embiid earned 87, Gilgeous-Alexander got 63 and Doncic 60.

The All-NBA teams will have a different look next year, as the teams will no longer be broken down by the traditional positions of two guards, two forwards and a center.

Embiid was a victim of the position breakdown the past two years, as he was a runner-up to fellow center Jokic in MVP voting but saddled on the All-NBA Second Team.

Jokic was on the short end of the voting this year, as he finished second to Embiid in the MVP race and ended up on the All-NBA Second Team.

Embiid, the league’s scoring leader at 33.1 points per game, received 73 first-place votes for MVP.

Nikola Jokic scored 17 of his 29 points during the decisive third quarter and the Denver Nuggets gained the upper hand in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 118-102 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Jokic followed his 53-point performance in Game 4 with another stellar display, adding 13 rebounds and 12 assists for his 10th career playoff triple-double, breaking a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for most by a center in NBA history.

Bruce Brown scored 25 points, one shy of his playoff career high, and Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray added 19 apiece as Denver improved to 6-0 at home this postseason for a 3-2 series lead.

The Nuggets turned a 52-49 halftime lead into a 91-74 advantage with a dominant third quarter in which Jokic made seven of eight shots, while Devin Booker scored three points on 1 of 8 from the field.

Booker finished with 28 points but missed 11 of 19 shots, Kevin Durant had 26 points and Deandre Ayton added 14. No other Suns player reached double figures.

Denver can earn a trip to the west finals with a win at Phoenix on Thursday in Game 6.

Visiting 76ers cruise past Celtics

Joel Embiid scored 32 points and Tyrese Maxey added 30 with six 3-pointers to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a surprisingly easy 115-103 victory over the Boston Celtics and a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Philadelphia led by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter as the home fans showered the Celtics with boos.

James Harden had 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, Tobias Harris chipped in 16 points and 11 boards and little-used Danuel House Jr. contributed 10 points and five rebounds.

The 76ers can close out the series and advance to the East finals for the first time since reaching the NBA Finals in 2000-01 with a win at home in Game 6 on Thursday.

Jayson Tatum had 36 points but missed all five of his first-quarter attempts and made 11 for 27 from the field. He was part of a poor shooting effort by the Celtics, who shot under 40 percent overall and misfired on 26 of 38 from long range.

Boston cut the deficit to 92-81 with under 10 minutes remaining but Maxey and Embiid responded with consecutive 3s. After Jaylen Brown hit a layup, baskets by House Jr. and Maxey stretched Philadelphia's advantage to 104-88, effectively ending any hopes of a comeback.

Joel Embiid has been set the challenge of winning multiple MVP awards by his former high school coach.

Embiid was named the league's MVP for the first time on Tuesday, edging out competition from Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Philadelphia 76ers star returned from injury against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, though could not inspire his team to victory in Game 2 of their playoff series, with the Sixers going down 121-87.

While there is plenty of time remaining for Embiid to take control of that series, Justin Harden – who coached the 29-year-old during his senior year at The Rock School in Florida – says the Philadelphia talisman must continue to improve if he is to be named MVP again.

"Well, in order to get a second MVP he is going to have to be better, right? Because that's just kind of how it goes, you have got to be better than what you were before," Harden told Stats Perform.

"And you know, Nikola Jokic can attest to that. And Giannis can attest to that. And certainly, LeBron [James] can attest to that."

Harden, though, has full faith in 76ers coach Doc Rivers' ability to develop Embiid even further.

He said: "I trust Doc Rivers and what he's done and been able to do.

"But I think he [Embiid] carries a heavy burden as it is. I don't want to add any more to it, but just stay healthy. When you have a bunch of guys flying around at your feet, it's hard to stay healthy, but I hope he does."

As for the legacy Embiid could leave, Harden hopes his former student aims for the stars.

"I think there's no question, he's a top 10 player right now," he said.

"Some would question if he's a top-five player, but if he continues to play as he's been playing, then you start to get mentioned along with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon. 

"They are the guys who won an MVP, who were centres who also led their teams to championships.

"I hope he's able to accomplish that, because every great player gets judged by their team's accomplishments, right? And whether they win a championship or not, that somehow knocks them down.

"I think that he's going to be considered one of the greatest and when you consider his footwork, his touch, his ability to shoot the mid-range and the three-pointers, really, you've only ever seen one guy in Hakeem Olajuwon like him.

"His idol is Hakeem Olajuwon, I'm sure it's just a great feeling to know that you're being compared to your idol. So that's pretty awesome for him."

The Sixers are aiming to win their first NBA title since 1983, but first they must get past the Celtics and advance to their first conference finals series since 2001.

Philadelphia hosts Game 3 of the series, which is tied at 1-1, on Friday.

Joel Embiid conceded he has not fully recovered from injury, but is determined to help the Philadelphia 76ers overcome the Boston Celtics.

Embiid was named the new NBA MVP on Tuesday but his comeback from a sprained ligament did not go according to plan a day later as he scored just 15 points in a 121-87 defeat to Boston.

Celtics' win tied the series at 1-1 heading into Game 3 in Philadelphia on Friday.

And while Embiid acknowledged he was never going to be at 100 per cent, he did not feel another few days of rest would have made much of a difference.

"The way I saw it, what I have, I'm supposed to be out for four-to-six weeks or something like that," Embiid said.

"I'm not gonna be 100 per cent for that whole time. I'm not gonna be fully healed for that whole time. I felt pretty good to play and I feel like I can help the team defensively and offensively.

"Obviously, offensively, I wasn't as aggressive. I was just trying to let the game come to me. Then defensively, just protecting the rim. I think I did a fine job when it comes to that. So I just felt like being up 1-0 and having a chance to go up 2-0 against this type of team.

"I felt like just get this [comeback] out of the way. Disappointed by the loss but that's a step towards getting back to myself.

"I have a lot of work to do to make sure I'm ready for Friday."

For Embiid, there is nothing that will now stop him from trying to push the Sixers to glory.

"I play through a lot. Last year, broken face, fingers, played through it all," he said.

"Even with the concern that I could lose my vision if I got hit. So I'll keep playing through anything.

"We've got a big chance [to win an NBA title], so we've got to take advantage of it and make sure we're all ready for Game 3."

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