In his comeback from a sprained left foot, Joel Embiid hit the game-winning 14-footer with 18.6 seconds left and finished with 30 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 104-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
With 56 seconds left, he ducked inside to shoot a basket to bring the Sixers within 100-99; Embiid demonstrated why the Sixers value him so highly. With 31 seconds left, the Sixers forced a shot clock violation, and their All-Star center then went to work for one of the game’s biggest plays.
After Embiid’s tremendous shot, the Hawks still had a chance, but Embiid intercepted Trae Young’s lob pass in the paint. The audience chanted, “MVP! MVP!” as Embiid converted three free throws in the last seconds. MVP!”
For the Sixers, Tobias Harris scored 24 points, and Shake Milton added 21.
With 18 points each, Young and De’Andre Hunter were the Hawks’ top scorers.
The Sixers didn’t miss a beat even though Embiid missed the previous four games due to a sprained left foot. They went 3-1 while Tyrese Maxey and James Harden were still out with foot ailments and guys like Milton and Paul Reed carried them through crucial situations.
“When everyone returns, can we continue to play this way? That will be crucial for us, according to 76ers coach Doc Rivers.
The 76ers require their big guy.
Embiid, the current NBA scoring champ, needed some time to warm up. Before making one in the second quarter, he missed his first four attempts, but he still finished with 14 points at the half.
The Sixers, who had won the previous night in Orlando, kept feeding Embiid until he found his rhythm again. In the third, he completed a three-point play to knot the score at 75 and rally the Sixers from a 16-point deficit. It became 80-80 after AJ Griffin and Georges Niang traded threes.
As injuries plagued the Sixers, Milton’s playing time increased. He averaged 9.7 points per game when the season began, but during the previous five games, he has scored at least 22. He recovered from a 3-of-10 first-half shooting performance to go five from 8 for 11 points in the third quarter.