PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid tied his career high with 50 points in just 27 minutes, leading a dominant third quarter that carried the Philadelphia 76ers to a 123-110 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Embiid also had 12 rebounds and three blocks while making 17 of 23 field goals and 15 of 17 free throws. The four-time All-Star and MVP candidate played just 58 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Tobias Harris added 21 points for the 76ers, who have won nine of 11. Philadelphia began play sixth in the East but just 2 ½ games out of the top spot.
Mo Bamba set career highs with 32 points and seven 3-pointers for Orlando. The rebuilding Magic dropped to an NBA-worst 8-38 with their third straight loss and 13th defeat in the last 14 games.
Philadelphia was booed off the court at halftime, trailing 57-47. But the 76ers came out determined after the break, using a 17-6 run over the first 5:05 to jump in front, 64-63. Embiid finally got some help from his teammates during the spurt, as Tyrese Maxey drained a pair of 3-pointers.
Embiid, who entered averaging 27.3 points, took over from there, scoring in a variety of ways in a breathtaking third quarter that matched his similarly stellar first quarter. He was serenaded with “MVP! MVP!” chants on two trips to the free throw line in the period, and brought the fans roaring to their feet when he made a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the quarter that gave Philadelphia its largest lead to that point, 92-80.
It gave Embiid 47 points for the game and 23 in the third quarter alone in which he shot 8 of 10. The star center opened the contest by draining 8 of 10 shots in a 20-point first quarter that helped the 76ers to a 25-21 advantage.
Embiid re-entered with 7:23 left in the fourth and quickly got to 49 points with a pair of free throws 15 seconds later. Then, Embiid was fouled by Mamba, who fouled out on the play, with 6:26 left. With the crowd standing and recording the moment on cell phones, he made the first to reach 50 points before misfiring on the second free throw. Coach Doc Rivers quickly subbed him out to loud cheers.
Embiid was dominant in the first quarter but the rest of the 76ers combined for just five points on 2-for-11 shooting. And it caught up to them in the second quarter. The Magic closed within 38-37 while Embiid rested for the first 5:20 of the period, then scored 11 of the final 14 points to open a 10-point advantage after he went to the bench with three fouls with 3:07 remaining.
Bamba finished with 28 points and made 7 of 8 3-pointers in the opening half, easily bettering his previous career highs in scoring (22 points) and made 3-pointers (5).
Magic: Assistant coach Jesse Mermuys filled in for head coach Jamahl Mosley (health and safety protocols), who missed his second straight game. Assistant coach Nate Tibbetts also was absent due to health and safety protocols. … Wendell Carter Jr. (sore left hamstring) was out of the lineup for the seventh consecutive contest. Mermuys believes Carter’s return is imminent. … R.J. Hampton went down hard with 4:52 left in the fourth, went to the locker room and didn’t return.
76ers: Danny Green (right hip) missed his fourth in a row, Matisse Thybulle (right shoulder) his third straight and Shake Milton (back) his eighth. Rivers said he expects Thybulle to miss at least one more game, while he didn’t have a timetable for Milton.
Magic: Fell to 6-22 on the road. Orlando is 2-16 at home. … Trail the four-game season series 3-0. The teams will play once more, March 13 in Orlando.
76ers: Improved to 10-9 at home and 9-6 with Embiid in the lineup in Philadelphia. … As trade rumors continue to circulate around Ben Simmons, who has been out all season due to personal reasons, Rivers said rebounding and playmaking would be areas for addition at the trade deadline when pressed. “You need playmakers in the playoffs, you just do,” he said. “You need guys who are going to make plays for themselves and others. And the more you have, the better team you have, the better chance you have.”
Magic: Open five-game homestand against the Lakers on Friday.
76ers: Host the Clippers on Friday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports