Saturday's NBA playoffs: Embiid returns, leads 76ers past Nets for 3-1 advantage
New York — Joel Embiid scored and rebounded. He blocked shots and even threw the most important pass of the game.
The only thing he didn’t do is lose his cool after his hard foul triggered a scuffle.
After having to sit out the last game, there was no way Embiid was going to risk an ejection and miss his chance to help the Philadelphia 76ers seize control of the series.
Embiid had 31 points and 16 rebounds, and passed to Mike Scott for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left as the 76ers beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-108 on Saturday to take a 3-1 series lead.
Embiid also had a flagrant foul that led to a scuffle and two ejections during an eventful return to the lineup after missing Game 3 with a sore left knee.
“I know these guys are going to go at me because they want me to retaliate, so I’ve got to be mature when I’m on the court and just stay cool and not react,” Embiid said.
“Today I could have reacted but I felt like my team needed me more than they needed Jared Dudley, so I’ve just got to stay cool and mature and do my job.”
Tobias Harris had 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the 76ers. They can advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight season with a victory at home Tuesday night.
They got a big boost from the return of Embiid, who scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter after the Nets led by seven. He helped the 76ers overcome the loss of Jimmy Butler, who was ejected in the third quarter after Embiid’s hard foul on Jarrett Allen.
Even that ended up working out for the 76ers. Scott took what probably would have been Butler’s position on the floor in the final seconds and turned Embiid’s seventh assist into the go-ahead basket.
Embiid also had six blocked shots.
“Just look at the magnitude of what the numbers say, the influence that the numbers say that he must have had on the game,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “To have 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, six blocked shots and you win, well it’s hard to sort of say it any better than that. He was dominant.”
Caris LeVert scored 25 points after being inserted into the Nets’ starting lineup. D’Angelo Russell and Allen each added 21.
Dudley also was inserted into the starting lineup for the Nets and had been agitating the 76ers with his defense and his talking, but was gone midway through the third quarter as one of the central figures in the scuffle that spilled into the stands.
Embiid swung his arm forcefully while fouling Allen, and Dudley quickly moved in and bumped Embiid. Butler then ran in and pushed Dudley to start the shoving. Dudley, Simmons and referee Ed Malloy all got knocked into the seats, and after a lengthy video review, Butler and Dudley were given technical fouls and ejected, and Embiid’s foul was ruled a flagrant 1.
Dudley said he was trying to send a message. The Nets have been upset over an elbow Embiid hit Allen with in Game 2 that they felt should have been an ejection, and were further angered after when Embiid laughed as he apologized in his press conference.
“When you have a guy giving flagrant fouls, I mean Joel Embiid is second in the league in flagrant fouls,” Dudley said. “So for that elbow he had before just to have a flagrant 1, no fine, no nothing, laughing in the media, if you think that a team that I play on is going to have (to accept) that, that’s another thing coming, especially on this young team.”
Embiid would later make the biggest mark with his offense. The 76ers were trying to get the ball to him trailing by one after Joe Harris’ layup, but Embiid couldn’t control the pass under the rim. But he regained the ball and found Scott in the corner for a 3 and a 110-108 lead.
Allen then turned the ball over after three Sixers surrounded him and Harris closed out the scoring with two free throws. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was angry afterward, feeling Allen was wrapped up by Harris as he tried to roll to the basket.
Dudley and Simmons jawed at each other after Dudley gave him a long stare with his arms up after hitting a 3-pointer during a 9-0 run that gave Brooklyn a 63-53 lead shortly before halftime. The Nets led 63-57 at the break.
More NBA playoffs
Denver 107, (at) San Antonio 103: Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Jamal Murray added 24 points and Denver beat San Antonio, rebounding from a flat performance tie the series at two games apiece.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and nine rebounds for San Antonio. DeMar DeRozan added 19 points before he was ejected with five minutes remaining after arguing with an official over an offensive foul.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Denver.
Houston 104, (at) Salt Lake City 101: James Harden overcome a horrible shooting performance and scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Houston past Utah for a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Harden made a 3-pointer and added two free throws with 42.4 seconds left to give the Rockets a 101-97 lead. After Donovan Mitchell made two free throws, Harden missed another 3-point attempt, but P.J. Tucker, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made one of two free throws.
Mitchell had a wide-open look at a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, but like so many of his shots in the hard-fought contest, it was off the mark.
Harden misfired on his first 15 shots and was 3-for-20 shooting with 10 assists. He was 14 for 16 from the line.
Chris Paul scored 18 points and Clint Capela had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who won despite shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 67.6 percent from the line.
Mitchell scored 34 points but struggled shooting, too, making just 9 of his 27 attempts. Derrick Favors had 13 for the Jazz.
Game 4 is Monday night in Utah.