PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid tweaked his left knee in a hard fall last week and needed until the last warmup shot to decide he was healthy enough to play for the 76ers.
His knee was fine. Embiid’s game was even better.
Tyrese Maxey made three 3-pointers in a game-opening 14-0 run that helped Philadelphia lead Washington by 29 at halftime, and Embiid had 34 points and 10 rebounds in a 146-101 beatdown of the Wizards on Monday night.
“Usually in an NBA game, you’re going to see it swing back the other way for a while,” 76ers coach Nick Nurse said. “Our guys just kept playing with good assertiveness at both ends almost for the whole game, which is good.”
Sixers fans were still filing into the arena when Maxey hit two 3s, Tobias Harris made a 3, Maxey hit another 3 and Harris added two free throws for the 14-0 lead that, yes, decided the outcome in the first two minutes of the game.
The hapless Wizards (3-19) never had a chance.
After all, the Wizards had seen this show before. The 76ers led 75-46 at halftime Monday night, the second time this season they scored 75 points by the break. The other? On Nov. 6 against the Wizards.
Maxey made five 3s and scored 24 points.
Kyle Kuzma led Washington with 21 points.
“It is deflating when you miss shots and feel like you’re on your heels all game,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I do think there’s some stretches we showed a little more resilience. That’s swayed by our offense. When we struggle with making open shots and get kind of deflated, we’ve got to anchor ourselves even more and try and get a stop.”
The Sixers entered shooting 37% from 3-point range, good enough for eighth in the league. In the first half, they made 14 of 29 3-pointers. Maxey hit five, Patrick Beverley went 3 for 3 and Embiid’s lone 3 of the half put the 76ers up 75-44.
The 76ers hit 20 3s overall. Yeah, it was that kind of game.
The Sixers (15-7) won their third straight game and can fatten their record with two games this week against Detroit — losers of 20 straight games — and another against Charlotte. The Wizards, Pistons and Hornets have the three worst records in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia’s schedule toughens up next week with a game against Chicago, the 12th team in the East.
Embiid scoffed at the idea the Sixers were in for an easier stretch.
“I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “You’re still in the NBA. You’ve got to respect the game. You’ve got to respect the opponent. On any given night, teams and players could just go off.”
The schedule could give the Sixers an opportunity to rest Embiid, the reigning MVP and two-time scoring champion. He came in averaging 33.3 points and 11.5 rebounds.
When Embiid scored his 30th point of the game, the 76ers led 94-62 in the third. Embiid checked out for good (on 14-of-20 shooting) with 1:25 left in the third and the 76ers up 105-65. He’s scored 30 points in eight straight games.
The loudest roar of the game came when Washington’s Mike Muscala missed two straight free throws, giving 76ers fans free fast-food chicken. Muscala, of course, already had cult status in Philly for hitting a winning 3-pointer in a meaningless game for Oklahoma City late in 2020 that knocked its draft position out of the top 20 and forced them to give their pick — per terms of a previous trade — to the 76ers. They took Maxey at No. 21.
Wizards: Host New Orleans on Wednesday.
76ers: Play Wednesday at Detroit and then host the Pistons on Friday.
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