By KEVIN COONEY – Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 32 points, James Harden had 24 points and 13 assists and the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 111-101 on Friday night.
Embiid was 11 out of 20 off the floor. Harden also had seven rebounds. Tobias Harris added 14 points, Georges Niang had 12 and Matisse Thybulle 10.
“We had a two-unit team tonight and played well together,” said 76ers coach Doc Rivers.
Jalen Brunson, the former Villanova star who played a good chunk of his home college games at the Wells Fargo Center, hit his first seven shots and led Dallas by 24 points. He got 10 out of 14.
Luka Doncic had 17 points and 10 assists but was held 5-20 from the floor and 2-10 from beyond the 3-point line. Dwight Powell added 14 points and Spencer Dinwiddie had 12 for the Mavs, who were struggling with Philadelphia’s zone defense.
“We didn’t shoot,” said Dallas coach Jason Kidd. “We kept the ball. It broke our rhythm. Give them credit for sticking to the zone. We looked good and just didn’t do it. When you play Zone you have to be fit to make shots and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
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Embiid scored 21 points in the first half and capped a run with a fadeaway three-pointer at the end of the shot clock to put Philadelphia 58-53 at halftime. He scored 30 or more points in 33 of 57 games this season.
“The activity we all had tonight was huge,” Embiid said. “We covered and did what we do best. It was good to see.”
With Embiid on the bench to start the fourth quarter, Harden and the backup Philadelphia announced the split. Harden recorded 15 straight points for the 76ers either a goal or an assist en route to a 99-80 lead.
“I still have to be aggressive,” Harden said. “I still have to be in attack mode and hit the basketball. Tonight, in that fourth quarter, as I kept attacking – the games will come. We have lobs and we have threes and that comes from my aggressiveness. You have to read the game and tonight I felt like I read the game well.”
Embiid is 19 straight games active, the third-longest active streak of his regular-season career, and is coming off just a 21-game streak and a 26-game opener for the 2018-19 campaign at the start of the season. He has played in 48 of Philadelphia’s last 50 games since returning from a nine-game absence in November due to league health and safety protocols.
“I’m a competitive guy,” Embiid said. “I won’t lie. I see everything and that was awesome, although that was (mainly) in my first three years. I like a challenge and I like proving people wrong. But the goal is to win a championship at the end and be ready for the playoffs and do my best. It overrides everything and whatever is best for me to go 100% into the playoffs, I will do that.
Mavericks: Saturday night in Charlotte to wrap up a six-game journey.
76ers: host Toronto on Sunday night.
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