Joel Embiid continues to be in a pain in the side of the Utah Jazz.
After dropping 59 points in a home win over the Jazz in November, Embiid didn’t quite have that much on Saturday, but he had 30 points and seven rebounds. He also drilled the game-winning jumper with 4.9 seconds left as the Sixers escaped with a 118-117 win to begin their five-game road trip.
It looked like Philadelphia was going to let this one slip away. The Sixers built a 20-point lead, but they then stopped doing the things that led to that lead and the Jazz came back to take their first lead of the game with less than a minute remaining.
James Harden scored 18 points in the fourth and he set up Embiid for the game-winning jumper as Philadelphia was able to escape.
“We wasn’t as good as we should have been,” Embiid told NBC Sports Philadelphia in a sideline interview afterward. “Especially, with the start we had. James did a great job of just carrying us throughout the whole fourth. On the last game-winning shot, game-winning shot, we’re down by one so I had to make a play and make the shot.”
It was clear that the Jazz couldn’t do much in defending the pick-and-roll between Embiid and Harden down the stretch. Philadelphia continued to go to that play down the stretch and the Sixers were able to find success with that combination.
“We had a couple of opportunities in our pick-and-roll and Joel, the short jumper,” Harden told reporters. “A couple of them, he missed me throughout the course of the game, so we just emptied the corner out. Me going to my left hand, downhill. I seen the big man come over a little bit, Joel was open. He had a shot the first opportunity, I guess he didn’t like it, and he made a comfortable shot. We’re gonna live with it every time.”
Embiid and the Sixers will now look to continue their winning ways on Sunday when they take on the Los Angeles Lakers on the second game of a five-game road trip.
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