Suns 116, 76ers 113
Joel Embiid grabbed a two-handed rebound, turned and heaved an 85-foot, right-handed strike with a throw ripped from Bryce Harper's playbook that banked off the glass and rattled off the front and back of the rim and out.
The Philadelphia center was flat on his back in disbelief over the near-make that would have sent the game to overtime.
“It would have made for a long flight, long night and not a lot of sleep," Suns coach Monty Williams said.
Rest easy, Phoenix.
Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and the Suns walked off winners on the road for the second time this week against one of the top teams in the East. Paul scored 28 points, Booker had 19 and Bridges 18 to lead Phoenix to a victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Embiid had 38 points and 17 rebounds and one oh-so close shot.
‘When I threw it, it looked good," Embiid said.
Paul, a 93% free-throw shooter, missed one from the line that would have sealed the win instead of giving Embiid a glimmer of highlight-reel hope.
“If you’re up three, I always want to make the free throw to go up four,” Paul said. “That shot was in-and-out. I ain’t never seen anything like it.”
Neither had the rest of the Suns.
“That was a heck of a display of a throw right there,” Suns forward Cameron Johnson said.
Said Bridges: “I don't know how I would have reacted. That was crazy.”
The Suns improved their NBA-best road record to 19-7 and are second overall at 42-16 — 1 1/2 games behind Utah for the league lead.
Paul hit five 3s and Bridges, a former Villanova standout, continued to haunt the Sixers three years after an ill-fated draft-night deal. The Sixers selected Bridges with the 10th overall pick in 2018 — a feel-good story because of the Nova connection and his mother worked for the 76ers’ parent company. Zhaire played only 13 NBA games and is out of the league while Bridges turned into a breakout star for the blossoming Suns.
The Sixers again played without starters Ben Simmons (unspecified illness) and Tobias Harris (right knee). Simmons missed his second straight game and Harris his third, the Sixers certainly secure enough in playoff spot to the point they don’t have to rush either one back. Seth Curry also missed the game with a left hip flexor — three starters down certainly one reason why FanDuel had the Suns as three-point favorite.
The Sixers would certainly like all three back in time for this week’s two-game set in Milwaukee. Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, and Matisse Thybulle joined Embiid and Danny Green (18 points) in the lineup.
"I know we got a lot of guys out, but we still want to win the game," 76ers coach Doc Rivers said.
Embiid left in the third when slammed his left knee on the court and sat behind the basket with a towel around his leg. He rested on his back and stretched his knee as the teams went basket-for-basket. Embiid jogged in place on the baseline and played cheerleader as the short-handed Sixers tried to hang with the Suns. Embiid has missed 18 games this season with injuries, notably a bone bruise on his right knee that cost him 11 games after the All-Star break.
Rivers said he did not know who would be available for both games against the Bucks.
Paul buried consecutive 3s for an 85-81 lead in Embiid’s absence and the All-Star center did not check back in until a shade over 6 minutes left the game and the Sixers down seven. Embiid buried a 3 in a late-game lineup where he was the only regular starter.
The Suns, coming off an overtime win in Milwaukee, got big baskets down the stretch from Booker -- including a nice bank off the glass and he swished a fallaway jumper for the dagger with 13 seconds left in the game.
Rivers, who stumped for Joe Biden during his campaign President, welcomed the guilty verdict of the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. “The fact that we celebrated a man who committed murder is going to jail, I thought about that last night and I’m not so sure if we’ve come a long way or we have a long way to go,” Rivers said. Rivers said he talked to the team about the verdict and felt “it was my responsibility” as coach to discuss current events with his players.
Jazz 112, Rockets 89
Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points, Joe Ingles had 21 and the NBA-leading Utah Jazz beat the Houston Rockets 112-89 on Wednesday night.
The Jazz have won four of their last five games. The 23-point margin was Utah’s most-lopsided victory over Houston since a 118-91 blowout Dec. 6, 2018.
Rudy Gobert had 19 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks for Utah.
John Wall led Houston with 21 points and six assists. The Rockets have lost seven of their last eight and 12 of their last 14. Houston is 4-33 since Feb. 4.
Wizards 118, Warriors 114
Stephen Curry had his first rough night for Golden State in a month, and Bradley Beal rallied Washington in the fourth quarter for its season-best sixth straight victory.
Coming off a historic 11-game stretch in which he made 78 3-pointers and surpassed Beal as the NBA’s scoring leader, Curry scored 18 points on 7-of-25 shooting, including 2 of 14 on 3s.
Beal scored 29 points in the Wizards' first home game with fans in more than a year.
Former Wizard Kelly Oubre Jr. led Golden State with 24 points.
Pacers 122, Thunder 116
Malcolm Brogdon had 29 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and Caris LeVert scored 28 points and severely short-handed Indiana beat Oklahoma City.
Indiana snapped a three-game losing streak despite playing without anyone taller than 6-foot-7. Indiana was missing three starters — two-time All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, center Myles Turner and forward T.J. Warren — and four backups.
Darius Bazley matched his career high with 26 points for Oklahoma City. The Thunder have lost 12 in a row.
Cavaliers 121, Bulls 105
Collin Sexton scored 30 points, Darius Garland added 25 and Cleveland beat Chicago to snap a five-game home losing streak.
Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff was not at the game for personal reasons but is expected to return to the bench Friday. Assistant coach Greg Buckner filled in for his longtime friend and colleague.
Kevin Love added 15 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland. Lauri Markkanen scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for Chicago.
Mavericks 127, Pistons 117
Luka Doncic had 30 points and 10 rebounds, Kristaps Porzingis added 19 points and seven boards and Dallas beat Detroit to stop a four-game home losing streak.
Doncic finished with nine assists, just missing his 10th triple-double of the season. Jalen Brunson scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half of a game that was supposed to be played Feb. 17 but was postponed because of severe winter weather in Texas.
Jerami Grant scored 26 points and Cory Joseph added 23 for the Pistons.
Heat 107, Spurs 87
Bam Adebayo scored 23 points, Jimmy Butler had 18 points and 11 assists and Miami Heat beat San Antonio.
Tyler Herro added 22 points. The Heat have won three in a row and nine of 13.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 15 points.
Clippers 117, Grizzlies 105
Luke Kennard scored a season-high 28 points and short-handed Los Angeles overcame an 18-point, first-quarter deficit to beat Memphis.
Marcus Morris added 25 points and Terance Mann had 19 points in helping the Clippers win their third in a row and 10th in 11 games despite being without starters Kawhi Leonard (sore foot), Paul George and Reggie Jackson, who both rested.
Ja Morant led Memphis with 22 points.
Jaren Jackson Jr. made his season debut for the Grizzlies, with 15 points and eight rebounds to go with five fouls off the bench. He'd been out since August after having surgery on his left meniscus and missing the first 56 games.
Nuggets 106, Trail Blazers 105
Nikola Jokic scored 25 points and made three key free throws down the stretch to help Denver beat Portland.
Michael Porter Jr. added 17 points, all in the opening quarter, and the Nuggets won their fourth straight.
Damian Lillard scored 22 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers lost their third straight.
Kings 128, Timberwolves 124
Buddy Hield hit a 3-pointer with 8.8 seconds remaining and scored 29 points in Sacramento's victory over Minnesota.
Moments after Minnesota's D'Angelo Russell missed from above the arc, Hield came back the other way and hit his seventh 3 of the game to help Sacramento avoid being swept in the three-game season series.
De'Aaron Fox had 30 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Kings. Harrison Barnes added 22 points and seven assists. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points for Minnesota.
Stories that may interest you
Pinch-hitter James McCann drove in the game’s first run with a double, Tomás Nido had three hits and the New York Mets overcame more injuries to beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1
Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Javier Báez homered off Jon Lester in his return to Chicago, and the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 7-3 on Monday night.
Jordan Staal scored twice and Nino Niederreiter beat Juuse Saros for the go-ahead goal early in the third period, helping the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators in the first game of the teams' first-round playoff series