PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was a Christmas spectacular Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center as the Sixers gifted Philadelphia with the best present of all — a 121-109 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. It was the first time in 31 years that an NBA Christmas Day game was in South Philly, and the hosts did not disappoint.
Joel Embiid dominated, especially in the first half. Embiid scored 23 points with seven rebounds and three assists in the first half along, leading to fans breaking out “Trust the Process” chants. The Sixers entered the half with a 21-point lead and never looked back.
Embiid finished with a team-high 31 points and 11 rebounds.
The Sixers stepped up to have one of their best games of the season against the team that holds the NBA’s best record.
“I think this team is built to play defense and tonight, we made threes along with that and allowed us to have the result that we just saw,” head coach Brett Brown said.
Embiid and Al Horford rose to the challenge of defending league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who shot 8-for-27 from the floor.
“You know Joel was our bell ringer tonight,” Brown said. “We had some really good contributions from Ben [Simmons], Tobias [Harris], and [Furkan Korkmaz]. Joel to your point, was our bell ringer tonight. And I’ll go back to a minute ago, I think the job that Al Horford and Joel did on Giannis was outstanding. Joel was great tonight.”
Antetokounmpo recorded a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds and Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 31 points.
The Sixers’ offense was feeling the holiday magic, making a season-high 21 three-pointers. Tobias Harris drained five, Josh Richardson and Furkan Korkmaz both hit four and Embiid and Horford had three.
Two days after recording a career-high 17 assists, Ben Simmons added another double-double, finishing with 15 points and 14 assists. He also had seven rebounds, falling three boards shy of a triple-double.
The Bucks broke the Sixers’ lead to nine points with two minutes left when Harris drilled a big three as time expired on the shot clock.
Harris finished with 22 points in his first Christmas Day game.
“This was a big game for us,” Harris said. “This was a game everybody had marked off on their calendar. We knew coming into this, playing on Christmas Day there’s an expectation and excitement for the game. As a collective unit and team, we wanted to embrace the challenge especially because they’re a top team in the NBA according to the standings.”
“It starts on defense and coming into this game we knew they had a great offensive team in terms of Giannis and a lot of shooters around him and try to take the ball out of his hands, limit three-pointers. Offense usually just flows from there,” Simmons said.
The Sixers improve to 16-2 at home.
They head to Orlando to face the Magic on Friday at 7 p.m.