PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 39 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 123-110 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
JJ Redick scored 18 points and Ben Simmons had 16 points and eight assists for the 76ers, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
The game matched teams that would’ve met in the first round of the playoffs had the postseason started Thursday. The 76ers have a strong hold on the No. 3 seed in the East with seven games remaining, and they moved three games ahead of idle Indiana.
Joe Harris scored 22 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 19 for Brooklyn, which is clinging to a playoff spot.
The Nets began Thursday sixth in the East but with four teams right on their heels — leading seventh-place Indiana by a half-game; No. 8 Orlando by one game; ninth-place Miami by 1 ½; and No. 10 Charlotte by 2 ½.
Brooklyn finished a grueling seven-game road trip 2-5. And it doesn’t get easier for the Nets, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Brooklyn’s remaining six-game schedule includes contests against Boston, Toronto, Indiana, Miami and a pair vs. Milwaukee.
Philadelphia surged to an early lead and never let go.
Helped by making eight of their first 10 3-point attempts, the 76ers led by as many as 20 points in the first half before settling for a 68-58 lead at the break. The Nets closed to within six at 71-65 and had a chance to cut it to four with Rodions Kurucs at the line for two free throws 2:42 into the third quarter. But Kurucs missed both foul shots, and Philadelphia ran off 10 straight to take a 15-point lead.
Embiid did his damage inside and outside. The All-Star center got off to a fast start, scoring 14 of Philadelphia’s first 19 points while making five of seven shots, including all three 3-point tries.
The teams received a combined four technical fouls. Three of the fouls came in the first half, all from referee Scott Foster for arguing calls. For Philadelphia, Embiid and Jimmy Butler were whistled for techs, while Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell received one. Simmons was called for a tech in the second half for dissent.
Brooklyn: Allen Crabbe (right knee) missed his sixth straight game. … The Nets dropped to 17-22 on the road. … Brooklyn struggled from the free-throw line, shooting 19 of 29. … Russell, who was averaging 28.3 points on the road trip, scored 13.
Philadelphia: Assistant coach Billy Lange accepted the head coaching job at Saint Joseph’s University on Thursday. Lange’s duties coaching the defense will be assumed by Jim O’Brien. … Philadelphia improved to 30-9 at home and 13-7 since adding Tobias Harris.
Brooklyn: Open a three-game homestand Saturday against Boston.
Philadelphia: At Minnesota Saturday night.