Joel Embiid poured in 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the visiting Philadelphia 76ers swamped the reeling San Antonio Spurs 137-125 on Friday.
The 76ers forged a 47-point second quarter on the way to a 12-point lead at halftime. They increased their advantage to as many as 21 points late in the third quarter behind Embiid’s 12 points in the period and a 12-0 spurt keyed by the reserve unit.
San Antonio cut its deficit to 122-112 on a pair of free throws by Malaki Branham with 5:02 to play, but Embiid answered with three free throws and James Harden buried a 3-pointer with 3:58 left to push the 76ers’ advantage back to 16 points. Philadelphia cruised to the finish line, winning for the ninth time in its past 10 games.
The Spurs have lost eight straight games and 16 of their past 18. Friday’s contest was San Antonio’s last at home for the month of February as it embarks in its annual Rodeo Road Trip, in which it plays nine straight games away from home.
Tyrese Maxey scored 25 points for the 76ers, with Harden adding 16 points, Shake Milton hitting for 14 and De’Anthony Melton and Georges Niang tallying 13 each.
Branham, a rookie, set a career high for the second straight game with 26 points. Keldon Johnson added 18 for the Spurs. Jakob Poeltl had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Keita Bates-Diop and Stanley Johnson scored 13 points apiece.
San Antonio played without injured starters Jeremy Sochan (lower back) and Tre Jones (left foot) and key reserve Romeo Langford (left adductor).
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The Spurs led for most of the opening quarter until Philadelphia rallied to take a 20-19 lead on Maxey’s 3-pointer with 3:38 to play in the period before the teams traded the lead on the way to a 26-26 tie at the quarter break.
The 76ers took charge in the second period by reeling off a 18-4 run capped by Embiid’s alley-oop dunk off a Harden assist and Tobias Harris’s running dunk with 1:45 to play. Philadelphia shot 17 of 21 from the floor in the period and settled for a 73-61 lead at intermission.
Embiid’s 18 points before halftime led all scorers while Maxey added 13 for the 76ers. Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 12 points while Branham and Poeltl added 10 each in the half.