The Washington Wizards withstood a 48-point performance from Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid to halt the 76ers eight-game NBA winning streak with a 116-111 triumph on Tuesday, 27 December (EST).
The Boston Celtics shook off a slow start to rout the Houston Rockets 126-102, pushing their league-best record to 25-10 with a third straight win.
Meanwhile, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a four-game skid with a convincing 129-110 victory over the Magic in Orlando.
In Washington, Kristaps Porzingis scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who led the Sixers by as many as 16 in the third quarter.
They were up by 11 early in the fourth, but the Sixers slashed the deficit to one on Embiid’s alley-oop dunk with 2:59 to play.
Porzingis responded with a three-pointer, and the Sixers wouldn’t get the gap below three points the rest of the way.
It was 111-108 when Embiid fell and lost the ball out of bounds, the Wizards quickly pushing the lead back to six points.
Embiid’s three-pointer saw Philadelphia pull within 114-111 with six seconds left.
But Deni Avdija made a pair of free throws, Porzingis blocked Embiid’s final attempt and the Wizards escaped with the win.
“It would have been great to steal the game tonight, but they deserved it so much more than us,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “They played so much harder.
“I’m just disappointed with how we approached the game tonight,” Rivers said.
Bradley Beal added 19 points for Washington before he left the game late in the fourth, appearing to hurt himself in a collision with Embiid.
Kyle Kuzma and Rui Hachimura scored 14 points each for the Wizards. James Harden scored 26 points and handed out 13 assists for Philadelphia.
Brown, Tatum fuel Boston
In Boston, Jaylen Brown scored 39 points and Jayson Tatum added 38 to lead the Celtics, who were also buoyed by 11 points and 15 rebounds from Robert Williams.
The Rockets battled to keep it close, but Brown caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 14 points as he appeared to be energized after he was sent to the court by a flagrant foul by Kevin Porter.
The Celtics pushed the lead to 17 early in the fourth and cruised home.
The Lakers, who had lost four straight since star Anthony Davis was sidelined with a foot injury, got a much needed win in Orlando.
James scored 28 points and Russell Westbrook delivered a triple-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
Thomas Bryant added 21 points and 10 rebounds as 10 Lakers players scored in double figures.
“You can’t replace Anthony Davis, we know that,” Westbrook said in an on-court post-game interview. “As a team collectively we have to make sure we come together, play the right way and try to get some wins — try to hold it down until he comes back.”
In other early games, Paul George and Ivica Zubac scored 23 points apiece and Kawhi Leonard added 15 as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Raptors 124-113 in Toronto.
Buddy Hield drained six three-pointers, scoring 28 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 129-114 home victory over the Atlanta Hawks.