Timberwolves spoil Embiid’s 76ers return with 2OT victory
D’Angelo Russell scored 35 points and had a decisive steal and assist in the final seconds of the second overtime in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 121-120 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Embiid had 42 points and 14 rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing nine games because of COVID-19 protocols. Philadelphia lost seven of those games without the four-time All-Star and has now dropped eight of 10.
Russell also made a go-ahead 3 late in the first overtime. Karl-Anthony Towns added 28 points and 10 rebounds but didn’t play in the extra sessions after fouling out, and Anthony Edwards had 19 points. Minnesota has won six of seven.
Embiid scored all seven of Philadelphia’s points in the second overtime, and his 12-foot baseline jumper put them up 120-117 with 1:58 to play. Naz Reid’s layup pulled Minnesota within a point with 30.8 seconds left.
Then, Russell stole Tyrese Maxey’s pass that was intended for Embiid before assisting on Reid’s driving layup that put the Timberwolves up a point.
Philadelphia had one last chance to win it, but Edwards blocked Embiid’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Reid finished with 15 points.
Tobias Harris returned from a two-game absence due to a hip injury to add 17 points and nine rebounds for Philadelphia.
Embiid hadn’t played since Nov. 6. He entered averaging 21.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in 10 games this season. He also sat out on Nov. 1 against Portland to rest.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said before the game that Embiid would be a game-time decision. The star center went through his normal pregame routine, then received a raucous standing ovation from the fans during introductions.
Embiid is one of four 76ers to be sidelined this season as part of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, along with Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe.
Timberwolves: Patrick Beverley (left abductor strain) missed his second straight game in what is expected to be at least a two-week absence after getting injured in Wednesday’s 113-101 win over Miami.
76ers: Shake Milton (groin soreness) didn’t play. … Harris returned after missing the last two games with a sore left hip. … Danny Green also was in the lineup for the second straight game. He had missed seven of the previous 11 contests with left hamstring tightness.
Timberwolves: Coach Chris Finch grew up a 76ers fan in his hometown of Reading about 65 miles northwest of Philadelphia. “I used to tell Kevin McHale all the time I used to come down here on Sundays at the Spectrum and boo him,” Finch said. “This was my team growing up. It was a heck of a time to be a fan in the late ’70’s into the mid-80’s. Dr. J was my favorite player growing up.” … Won for the first time against Philadelphia since Nov. 17, 2016, snapping an eight-game losing streak.
76ers: Ben Simmons worked out prior to the game. Simmons (personal reasons) hasn’t played all season. … Veteran Philadelphia newscaster Jim Gardner rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell prior to the game. … Played for the first time in Philadelphia since Nov. 11. … Dropped to 4-5 at home.
Timberwolves: Host Indiana on Monday night.
76ers: Host Orlando on Monday night.