Embiid scores 31, 76ers beat Rockets for 7th straight

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HOUSTON (AP)Joel Embiid had 31 points and eight rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the Houston Rockets 111-91 Monday night for their seventh straight win.

Embiid turned in his seventh straight 30-point game and also had six assists. He was 9 of 16 from the field and made all 13 of his free throws.

He’s the second player in NBA history to score exactly 31 points in four straight games. Bob McAdoo was the first to do it for the Buffalo Braves in November 1973. Embiid entered Monday averaging 26.8 points per game, sixth in the NBA.

Philadelphia has the longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference and the second-longest run in the NBA behind Memphis’ nine-game string.

Christian Wood and Jalen Green each scored 14 points for Houston. Josh Christopher had 13 and Daniel Theis added 12.

CELTICS 101, PACERS 98, OT

BOSTON (AP) – Jaylen Brown scored 26 points and Jayson Tatum had 24, carrying Boston over Indiana in the first of a home-and-home series between the teams.

Robert Williams III had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Boston, including a key block in OT. The Celtics won for the fourth time in six games.

Torrey Craig led the Pacers with 19 points and Lance Stephenson scored 14 but missed a potential tying 3-pointer late in OT. Indiana has lost seven of eight.

Pacers scoring leader Domantas Sabonis was held to 11 points but had 23 rebounds after scoring a career-best 42 points in his last game. He finished with a triple-double, adding 10 assists.

TRAIL BLAZERS 114, NETS 108

PORTLAND, Ore (AP) – Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and short-handed Portland took advantage of James Harden’s absence for a victory over Brooklyn.

Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second game of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in double figures.

Monday’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 23 but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

KNICKS 111, SPURS 96

NEW YORK (AP) – RJ Barrett scored 31 points in his first home game since hitting his first career buzzer beater, leading New York over San Antonio.

Evan Fournier returned from a one-game absence with 18 points for the Knicks, who broke open a game that had been close throughout by outscoring the Spurs 18-2 to start the fourth quarter.

The Knicks won for the third time in four games to reach the midpoint of their schedule at 20-21.

Dejounte Murray scored 24 points for the Spurs, who finished a 1-6 road trip. Jakob Poeltl had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

HORNETS 103, BUCKS 99

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – LaMelo Ball hit the go-ahead basket with 15 seconds left, Terry Rozier scored 27 points and Charlotte beat NBA champion Milwaukee for the second time in three nights.

Ball scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, and Miles Bridges added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, who have won six of eight games and improved to 12-5 at home.

Khris Middleton had 27 points and 11 assists, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who also lost 114-106 to the Hornets on Saturday night.

Ball sank the winner when he drove across the lane, swept the ball above his head and launched an off-balance 10-foot runner.

PISTONS 126, JAZZ 116

DETROIT (AP) – Cade Cunningham scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the third quarter to help Detroit erase a 22-point deficit and beat Utah.

Saddiq Bey added 29 points for Detroit, which is 4-2 in 2022 after finishing 2021 with 18 losses in 19 games. Lead assistant coach Rex Kalamian took charge with coach Dwane Casey having entered COVID-19 protocol.

Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points for Utah, and Hassan Whiteside had a season-high 21 points as well as 14 rebounds.

Utah, which had won 10 straight against the Pistons, led by 22 in the second quarter but was outscored 94-62 in the final 2 1/2 quarters.

CAVALIERS 109, KINGS 108

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Jarret Allen had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Darius Garland also had a double-double and Cleveland held off Sacramento.

Kevin Love scored 19 points, Evan Mobley added 17 and Lauri Markkanen and Cedi Osman finished with 15 points apiece. Garland had 12 points and 11 assists as the Cavaliers completed the season sweep of the Kings.

Tyrese Haliburton had 21 points and eight assists for Sacramento. Buddy Hield added 19 points. The Kings have lost a season-worst five straight.

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