Washington Wizards' Daniel Gafford, center, goes up for a shot between Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, and P.J. Tucker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid scored 34 points, James Harden had 18 points and 14 assists and the Philadelphia 76ers cruised to a wire-to-wire 112-93 win over the fading Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
Tobias Harris added 11 points and De’Anthony Melton 10 for the 76ers (45-22), who have won five in a row to keep pressure on Milwaukee and Boston for the top two seeds in a crowded Eastern Conference. Philadelphia now plays seven of its next eight games on the road.
“When you are not playing the fourth quarter, that usually means something good,” said Embiid, who was 12 for 21 from the floor in 31 minutes. “Everyone contributed for us.
Washington (31-37) got a career-high 25 points from Corey Kispert and 13 from Bradley Beal, but dropped its fifth game in its last six. The Wizards also fell out of a tie for the 10th and final spot in the Eastern Conference’s play-in tournament, a half-game behind idle Chicago.
“The biggest thing was that we didn’t have any pace in the half court,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Beyond just getting the ball up, but trying to play off the dribble too much instead of the power of the swing pass and letting the offense work for you.”
Philadelphia’s defense had struggled despite its winning ways in recent weeks. In six games during March, the Sixers had allowed 119.2 points a game and 41% from behind the 3-point line.
That wasn’t the case against Washington, which could not generate anything beyond the 3-point arc. The Wizards shot 6 for 26 from beyond the arc. The Sixers had forward P.J. Tucker more as a rim protector matching up against Washington’s Kristaps Porzingis, ending Embiid away from the basket to provide length against Beal and Washington’s 3-point shooters.
“We did a really good job of being physical and switching,” Harden said. “We were able to guard shots, spread the floor and get dribble penetration. It’s just beautiful basketball.”
Embiid and Harden did the bulk of their damage in three quarters, sitting out large portions of the fourth as stretching the Philadelphia lead to 81-69. Embiid added eight rebounds and four assists despite not playing any time in the final 12 minutes.
After that, the Sixers’ bench widened the lead to 25 thanks to Melton, Shake Milton and Paul Reed contributing on the offensive end before Unseld Jr. had his starters sent to the bench late.
“It was more the offense tonight than anything,” Unseld Jr. said.
Wizards: Porzingis entered the night with three solid games against the Sixers this year, averaging 28.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Foul trouble limited Porzingis on Sunday night, picking up his fourth early in the third quarter. He finished with nine points on 4-of-15 shooting. It was his second-lowest point total this season.
76ers: Jalen McDaniels left in the second quarter with a right hip contusion. Since coming to Philadelphia, McDaniels has averaged 6.1 points in 16 minutes per game in 12 games.
Wizards: Host Detroit on Tuesday.
76ers: Begin a three-game road trip at Cleveland on Wednesday.
NEW YORK — Immanuel Quickley scored a career-high 40 points and Julius Randle had 26 as the New York Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 137-115 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night.
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