The Philadelphia 76ers head into the All-Star break riding high after pulling off a 131-123 win over the Utah Jazz in overtime.
Led by Joel Embiid's 40-point outburst, the 76ers who trailed for most of the game, stepped up when it mattered in crunch time against the league's best defensive team.
Tobias Harris added 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Ben Simmons chipped in 17 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 33 points, before being ejected late in OT. Despite hitting 21 3-pointers to Philly's eight, the Jazz were unable to execute down the stretch, scoring just five points in overtime.
For more on tonight's thriller, here are the key takeaways:
Embiid the go-to guy
Embiid missed the first matchup between these two teams in Salt Lake City, but the 76ers big man left his fingerprints all over this game, with a commanding performance against Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
The 7-footer went off for 40 points and 19 rebounds on 14-of-27 shooting, 2-of-5 from the 3-point line and 10-of-13 at the free-throw line. He now has five 40-10 games on the season, more than the rest of the NBA combined (4).
Averaging 30.2 points per game this season, Embiid is on track to become the first center to average 30 per game since Moses Malone in 1981-82, per StatMuse.
Against the best defensive big man in the league, Embiid bullied his way to the rim, outmuscling Gobert, buried fadeaway jumpers and dominated the glass, holding Gobert to just nine rebounds -only the seventh time this season he hasn't registered double-digit boards.
He saved his best for the end of regulation.
After Mike Conley's two free throws put Utah up 118-115 with 21.5 seconds left in regulation, the 76ers couldn't get the ball to their shooters to tie it up, so Embiid seized the moment, draining the wing 3-pointer to tie it up at 118 apiece with 5.9 seconds on the clock.
Never a doubt after it left his hands. pic.twitter.com/dnM632ODpe- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 4, 2021
With the season reaching the halfway points, Embiid's MVP case continues to go from strength to strength, with tonight's statement game his best of the season.
Welcome back Tobias Harris
In his first game back in the lineup after missing the past two due to a knee contusion, Tobias Harris was a force in overtime.
After a quiet game to that points scoring just 11 points through the end of regulation, Harris scored 11 of their 13 points in overtime to finish with 22 on the night, adding 10 rebounds.
He scored the 76ers' first eight points in the extra session, getting the better of Royce O'Neal as he aggressively attacked the basket and got to his spots.
He gave them a 126-123 lead, drilling a turnaround jumper with 1:37 remaining, and then the 76ers held their nerve from there. After Mitchell was whistled for a technical, Seth Curry drained the free-throw, before Embiid made 1-of-2 to make it 128-123.
Harris then iced the game at the line, hitting three free throws in the final 30 seconds.
A frustrating night for Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists, albeit on 34 shots, with Ben Simmons tasked with slowing down the Jazz star.
📹| @spidadmitchell ⤵️- utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 4, 2021
33p | 8r | 6a | 5 3pm | 1s pic.twitter.com/sD0YDATFxh
After scoring 24 points through three quarters, Mitchell scored seven points in the fourth quarter on 3-of-8 shooting and just two points in overtime, going 0-of-5.
He picked up two technical fouls in overtime after voicing his frustrations to the officials, storming off the floor as his night came to an early finish.
"The challenge is when you don't get the whistles you want - and those things always happen - is to play through it and continue to compete," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "I thought we did that. Obviously, I heard Donovan's comments. Obviously, there's a level of frustration that he has, that we have, and that's something that presumably you can't control.
"But give Philly credit. Embiid hit a big shot. We were on him trying not to give up a 3. And then we weren't able to close the other way and overtime got away from us. We just have to take a break, regroup and continue to compete."
Both teams have now wrapped up their first-half schedules and remain at the top of their respective conferences, with the Jazz sitting at 27-9 and the 76ers 24-12.
This game's four All-Stars - Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert - will now head to Atlanta for Sunday's All-Star Game which takes place at State Farm Arena.
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