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Philadelphia 76ers beat the Denver Nuggets, 126-121, in a showdown of last two league MVPs

The two best players in the NBA over the last three years went head-to-head in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, and it was the reigning MVP, Joel Embiid, who came out on top.

Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers got the better of Nikola Jokić – NBA MVP in 2021 and 2022 – and the Denver Nuggets, winning 126-121 behind Embiid’s 41 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Jokić scored 25 points for the Nuggets and pulled down an astonishing 19 rebounds, but it was not enough to top the Sixers, who’ve now won three straight.

It was the second time in a row that Embiid has scored 40-plus points after leading the scoresheet against the Houston Rockets on Monday, while teammate Tyrese Maxey added 25 points and nine assists against the defending NBA champions.

After the game, Embiid and Jokić exchanged a few warm words on the court, with the former calling his opponent the best player in the league.

Embiid continued his incredible scoring streak against the Nuggets. - Matt Slocum/AP
Embiid continued his incredible scoring streak against the Nuggets. - Matt Slocum/AP

“He won a championship, that’s the best team in the league and he’s the Finals MVP,” Embiid said in an on-court interview. “I just told him keep going and see you in two weeks. Keep doing your thing and that’s why you’re the best in the league.”

In a tight, entertaining contest, the teams were tied 78-78 at halftime before the Nuggets moved ahead and held a 104-99 lead by the end of the third quarter.

But the 76ers finished strongly, largely thanks to Embiid’s 10 straight points midway through the fourth. It was the 18th consecutive game that the center has scored at least 30 points.

“This was a game that went down to the wire,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, according to ESPN. “We came up short. Joel is a hell of a talent.”

The 76ers, third in the Eastern Conference, will face the Orlando Magic on Friday, while the Nuggets, third in the Western Conference, take on the Boston Celtics.

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