Los Angeles— Philadelphia center Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic lit up the NBA on Wednesday, underscoring their MVP credentials in leading their teams to victory.
Embiid matched his career high with 50 points in a display of ruthless efficiency that fueled the 76ers’ 123-110 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 49 points in a triple-double that also featured 14 rebounds and 10 assists, powering the Nuggets to a 130-128 overtime triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jokic scored 37 points in the second half and overtime.
The Serbian star handed out his 10th assist of the contest with 2.2 seconds left in overtime when, facing a double team himself, he lofted a cross-court pass to Aaron Gordon for a tie-breaking three-pointer.
Gordon’s fourth three-pointer of the game made it 130-127 and proved to be the game-winner. The Clippers made it 130-128 with a free throw after Denver reserve Davon Reed received a technical foul for coming onto the court after Gordon’s basket.
But Clippers guard Reggie Jackson couldn’t get his three-pointer to fall at the buzzer.
Jokic notched his 10th triple-double of the season, connecting on 16 of 25 shots from the field, including three of five from three-point range.
Embiid was even more efficient, connecting on 17 of 23 shots from the field and putting up his half-century in just 27 minutes on court.
“Fifty in 27, that’s the most impressive part,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “That was easy, quick, efficient and determined.”
Embiid made eight of 10 shots in scoring 23 points in the third quarter. His step-back three-pointer with 25 seconds left in the third put Philadelphia up 92-80 and took his tally to 47 points — two more than the rest of his teammates combined to that point.
His dominant effort helped the Sixers, trailing by 10 at halftime, out-score the Magic 47-23 in the third and take a 94-80 lead into the fourth quarter.
“I was feeling great,” said Embiid, who also pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Embiid played less than a minute in the fourth quarter, scoring three points—all on free throws—to take his tally to 50 then remaining on the bench as the Sixers led all of the final frame.
He joined Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson as the only 76ers with multiple 50-point games.
“I thought even tonight I was making fadeaways all over the place and getting to the free-throw line,” Embiid said. “But at the same time I was still moving the ball.
“These guys have a lot of trust in me, and they’re also looking for me,” Embiid added of his teammates. “It doesn’t matter any time in the game, the ball is always going to find me.”
Nets hold off Wizards
Dallas star Luka Doncic and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving both posted season-highs to lead their teams to victory.
Irving helped the Nets thwart a late Wizards rally in Washington to escape with a 119-118 victory, their first since star Kevin Durant was sidelined by a knee sprain on Saturday.
Irving’s 30 points were his most since he rejoined the team this month despite his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19, which means he can’t play home games because of New York’s vaccine mandate.
In Dallas, Doncic scored 41 points with 14 rebounds and seven assists in the Mavericks’ 102-98 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles continued with a 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Pacers guard Caris LeVert scored 22 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. Domantas Sabonis scored 20 points with 12 rebounds and 10 assists and Malcolm Brogdon chipped in 19 points for the Pacers.
LeBron James scored 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds but it wasn’t enough against a Pacers team that notched just their second win in 12 games.
Fueled by LeVert, the Pacers overpowered Los Angeles in the fourth quarter and the Lakers’ fourth defeat in five games will likely turn up the heat on coach Frank Vogel.