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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 21 points and 17 rebounds and made some big plays on both ends of the court late in the fourth quarter, Jimmy Butler scored 22 points and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Sacramento Kings 123-114 on Friday night.
Tobias Harris and JJ Redick each added 19 points and Ben Simmons contributed 18 for the 76ers, who won their third in a row to pull even with idle Indiana for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker with the Pacers and is trying to maintain hold of home court in a first-round playoff series, something coach Brett Brown said he coveted before the contest. Fifth-seeded Boston is two games behind the 76ers and Pacers.
Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox had 16 points apiece for Sacramento, which lost its third in a row and seventh in the last nine to further hurt its playoff push. The Kings, who last made the postseason in 2006, entered ninth in the West, five games behind the Clippers.
With Philadelphia clinging to a four-point lead with 3 minutes remaining, Embiid blocked Willie Cauley-Stein’s layup attempt. Two possessions later, Embiid rejected Barnes’ close-range try before hitting a short jumper of his own to make it 121-114 with 1:45 remaining.
The Kings were playing one night after a 126-120 loss at Boston, a game in which they had a 17-point first-half lead.
Against Philadelphia, Sacramento played from behind from the outset. Philadelphia increased its 62-58 halftime advantage to as many as 13 in the third quarter on Redick’s 3 that made it 93-80 with 2:13 left in the period.
The 76ers had a 10-point advantage to start the fourth, but Yogi Ferrell’s 3 capped a 9-2 Kings run to start the period that pulled Sacramento within 101-98 with 9:25 to play. But Simmons scored consecutive buckets from close range to increase the lead to seven and Sacramento never would get closer than three the rest of the way.
Kings: The Kings dropped to 13-21 on the road and 3-8 on the second contest of a back-to-back. . Marvin Bagley III had 15 points in his second game back after missing five due to a knee injury. . The Kings ended a four-game eastern road trip 1-3.
76ers: Newly signed Eagles WR DeSean Jackson rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell in the pregame and sat courtside. . Philadelphia ended a three-game losing streak to the Kings, who beat the 76ers 115-108 in Sacramento on Feb. 2 after sweeping both games last season. . Philadelphia improved to 28-9 at home.
Kings: Host Chicago on Sunday.
76ers: At Milwaukee on Sunday.