Westbrook triple-double keys OKC in 3OT thriller vs 76ers
PHILADELPHIA — Russell Westbrook had 27 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists, and Oklahoma City and the Philadelphia 76ers went basket-for-basket in a three-overtime thriller before the Thunder pulled out a 119-117 victory on Friday night.
Andre Roberson scored the winner with 10 seconds left for the Thunder. But one of the early contenders for NBA game of the year belonged to Joel Embiid and Westbrook as they drove, blocked and rebounded their way toward one big play after another.
Embiid scored 34 points in 48 minutes with an achy back and rallied the Sixers from a 17-point hole.
Embiid, Philly’s franchise center and social media star, grabbed his lower back when he took a hard foul on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter. Embiid grimaced during timeouts on the bench and trudged into position a few times.
Embiid sucked it up and carried the Sixers in the fourth and the first overtime. His feed to a charging Ben Simmons on the baseline for a two-handed dunk tied the score at 94-all with 53 seconds left in the quarter. The Sixers closed the fourth on an 11-0 run.
Embiid scored the first bucket of OT and the Sixers led for the first time in the game. The Sixers’ five-point lead with 1:20 left in overtime was wiped out on Paul George’s 3-pointer and a Westbrook bucket that made it 102-all. The Sixers blew their final possession on an ill-conceived 3 for Dario Saric.
Round 2 was just as fun.
Westbrook and Robert Covington exchanged 3s and George tied it at 109 on a driving layup. Westbrook and Embiid swapped buckets that kept it even and the Sixers had one more chance to win it with 1.2 seconds to go in the second OT.
Embiid and Westbrook combined to score eight straight points in the third overtime, and Embiid even waved goodbye as the crowd went wild when Steve Adams fouled out of the game.
But Embiid seemed gassed at the end and there’s no telling how the heavy workload may affect his availability the rest of the week.
The Sixers were featured on ESPN on Friday as part of Philadelphia All Access, and Sixers’ related content was aired throughout the day on all platforms.
“I’m not a fan,” coach Brett Brown said. “I like living behind closed doors.”
But Brown understood the exposure would help build the brand and serve as a recruiting pitch of sorts to any free agents intrigued about becoming part of The Process. The Sixers put on a show in the fourth until Embiid gave them a scare.
Embiid’s health woes have dogged him since his college career at Kansas and every slip, ache or bump throws Sixers fans into a panic. Embiid has been banged-up lately but he calmly went to the line and made both free throws. He fell again when he tripped over Adams, who earned a foul, and sank two more free throws to make it 78-72.
Thunder: Roberson had missed two games with a sprained left ankle. … Coach Billy Donovan was drilled in the face on an errant no-look pass — as in, Donovan wasn’t looking — by Sixers forward Richaun Holmes. … Embiid’s trash-talking was in perfect health. He jawed with Carmelo Anthony after a late foul.
76ers: F Robert Covington shot three airballs in the first half.
Carmelo Anthony warmed-up for his New York homecoming with 24 points. Anthony cracked the 20-point mark for only the second time in his last 10 games and perhaps gave Knicks fans a glimpse of what’s ahead when he returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Anthony had struggled headed into Friday’s game, averaging just 17.7 points on 40 percent shooting. He made 11 of 17 shots
The 76ers unveiled a statue for former point guard Maurice Cheeks outside their complex in New Jersey. Cheeks helped lead the Sixers to the 1983 championship and the team retired his No. 10 in 1995. Cheeks joined Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham and Wilt Chamberlain as Sixers with statues. The Sixers aired a video tribute for Cheeks and fans and players on both teams gave a standing ovation to the Thunder assistant coach.
Thunder: It’s Melo vs. the Knicks at MSG on Saturday.
76ers: Play Monday at Chicago.
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