PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris had 20 apiece, and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Brooklyn Nets 96-84 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Embiid, the two-time NBA scoring champion, was quiet offensively, going 6 of 11 from the floor, but he did just about everything else. The MVP finalist had 19 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.
Harris had 12 rebounds. James Harden scored only eight points on 3-of-13 shooting for the Sixers after a sensational Game 1 effort.
Game 3 is Thursday in New York.
Cam Johnson led the Nets with 28 points. Johnson sent Embiid stumbling on a one-handed dunk down the right side that posterized the 7-footer. Johnson stared down Embiid as the Nets forward backpedaled on defense in the first half.
That was Brooklyn’s last GIF-worthy highlight.
Maybe the 76ers just needed to listen to their coach more as they chase their first NBA championship since 1983.
After Brooklyn scored the first bucket of the second half, Doc Rivers called a quick timeout.
“C’mon, guys! C’mon!” Rivers implored in the huddle. “Listen, it’s up to y’all what you all want to do.“
How about finally decide the game.
Maxey, who kept the Sixers alive with 15 points in the first half, was stuffed by the rim on a fast break but Harris followed for the bucket and the 76ers finally tied the game at 55-all. Maxey didn’t miss on the next possession — a corner 3 that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Then PJ Tucker missed a 3, grabbed his own rebound, dished to Harden and the Beard buried his first 3 of the game. Harris came right back and connected on a 3 that had him hopping and waving his arms off the court headed into a timeout.
Embiid pumped his fist in the air and exhorted the crowd to get louder with a 64-56 lead.
The Sixers needed the spark after they spiraled from Game 1 dominance to Game 2 disaster in the first half.
No Sixer represented that fall more than Harden. His seven 3s steadied the Sixers in the opener but the aging vet — who battled left Achilles tendon soreness down the stretch of the regular season — was overwhelmed in Game 2. He missed 6 of 7 shots in the first half and all four 3-point attempts. Throw in two fouls and five turnovers and it was a marvel the Sixers only trailed 49-44 at the break.
That had to distress the Nets. Johnson scored 22 points in the half but — much like in Game 1 — the Nets got crushed on the boards and in the paint. Embiid scored eight points but grabbed 15 boards, 13 defensive.
Embiid seemed to make up for some offensive frustration with a two-handed jam late in the game that brought the crowd to its feet.
Nets: Have lost six straight playoff games to the 76ers. ... Mikal Bridges scored 21 points after he had 30 in Game 1.
76ers: Embiid’s 15 rebounds were the most by any 76ers player in a playoff half in the last 25 seasons. ... Maxey made 13 of 25 shots.
The Sixers went 2-0 at Brooklyn this season and 4-0 against the Nets overall.