LOS ANGELES – Joel Embiid scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to power the Philadelphia 76ers over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 143-120 Sunday in a matchup of high-profile NBA clubs.
The 24-year-old Cameroon 7-footer (2.13m) was supported by 22 points from Tobias Harris and 21 more from JJ Redick in a romp over LeBron James and the Lakers, who fell to 28-28.
At 36-20, the 76ers pulled within 5.5 games of Eastern Conference leader Milwaukee as Embiid pondered the team’s title hopes.
“We’ve got a chance, especially this year. We’ve got to keep working,” he said. “I plan on being here for a long time. This is my city.”
A trade with the Los Angeles Clippers added Harris to the lineup and Embiid likes the move even though new players must adjust to the 76ers in mid-season.
“I think we got better,” Embiid said. “These new guys, we’ve got to teach them the new system, but I think we’re going to be great.”
Every Embiid rebound came on the defensive boards, with the African star already seeing himself as the NBA’s top defender.
“I feel like defensively I’m the best in the league and that’s where it starts,” Embiid said. “When I can carry the load defensively I’m going to do so.”
James had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a losing cause.
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, averaging 18.7 points a game, scored 23 of his game-high 39 points in the first quarter to give the Lakers a 40-39 lead. Kuzma made 8-of-11 shots from the floor, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
Redick sank a corner 3-pointer falling beyond the baseline after being fouled and then sank a free throw to complete a four-point play with 2:32 remaining in the second quarter. That gave the 76ers a 69-63 lead on the way to a 76-67 half-time advantage and the hosts dominated in the second half.
Slovenian 19-year-old swingman Luka Doncic scored 28 points, including what proved to be the game-winning 3-point play, as the Dallas Mavericks edged visiting Portland 102-101.
Doncic, who also had nine rebounds and six assists, boosted Dallas ahead 102-99 with 88 seconds remaining but Portland’s CJ McCollum hit a jumper to create the final margin.
Doncic missed a late 3-pointer but Damian Lillard missed a jumper for the Trail Blazers to secure the Dallas triumph, the Mavericks having outscored Portland 24-9 in the fourth quarter to rally for the triumph.
Tim Hardaway Jr added 24 points for the Mavericks. Lillard scored a game-high 30 points for Portland while Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.