The Philadelphia 76ers managed to weather the storm without Joel Embiid, winning seven of 10 games while the four-time All-Star center sat out with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Embiid is listed as questionable to return this weekend for the 76ers, who host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and the Memphis Grizzlies the following night.
“I’m excited, man. I think when we add Joel back to the lineup, it’ll be lights out,” Dwight Howard said of Embiid, who is averaging 29.9 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 31 games this season.
“… A lot of people have written him off for the MVP and stuff like that, so I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to getting back and being the most dominant center in the NBA right now. I can’t wait to see him on the court,” Howard said.
Embiid collected 37 points and 11 rebounds in Philadelphia’s 118-94 romp over Minnesota on Jan. 29. The 7-foot star was a game-time decision with back tightness in that contest, but he showed no ill effects to send the Sixers to their seventh straight victory over the Timberwolves.
Shake Milton, who had 13 points off the bench in that game, exploded for 27 points of 10-for-14 shooting in the 76ers’ 114-94 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
Seth Curry had 19 points and Howard tied a season high with 18 points and added 15 rebounds for Philadelphia, which posted a 4-2 mark on its six-game road trip.
“That was a heck of a trip for us,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “I think we’re on the other side now. Now our guys don’t care. They just win.”
They’ve done their fair share of that in the City of Brotherly Love, winning nine of their last 11 home games and 19 of 23 on the season.
Minnesota, conversely, has struggled regardless of venue. The NBA-worst Timberwolves fell for the sixth time in eight games with a 120-108 setback at Memphis on Friday.
Minnesota coach Chris Finch lamented his team’s lackluster performance in the second half, including a late run by Memphis as it closed the third quarter on a 12-3 run.
“The entire third quarter, our ball movement had dried up,” Finch said. “I thought at halftime we played really well. We had (16) assists at halftime and we finished the game with 21. That pretty much says it all.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 16 rebounds to record his fifth straight double-double performance.
Rookie Anthony Edwards, who added 22 points and a team-high six assists on Friday, is averaging 22.8 points and shooting 44.7 percent from the floor (51 of 114) over his last six games.
Malik Beasley, however, made just 2 of 12 shots from the floor on Friday to finish with five points. He had a team-high 22 points in first meeting with Philadelphia.
Ricky Rubio sat out Friday’s game with back spasms. It was not immediately known if he will be able to play on Saturday.
–Field Level Media