PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid took his pieces and battled his way to 31 points and 11 rebounds, Tyrese Maxey showed he was no postseason wonder in one game and the 76ers of Philadelphia beat the Toronto Raptors 112-97 Monday night for a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.
Maxey had 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 10 rebounds. James Harden scored 14.
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Series is Wednesday in Toronto.
The Raptors trailed by 27 points but showed some life in the fourth, reducing it to 11 until Game 1 star Maxey buried a 3 that sent the Sixers rolling again.
OG Anunoby led the Raptors with 26 points. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each had 20.
The Raptors were ready to rumble after coach Nick Nurse accused officials of letting the Sixers off the hook with serious fouls in Game 1. Not even 2 minutes into the game, Anunoby pushed Embiid , Embiid pushed back and the two teams had to be separated as the crowd erupted. Anunoby and Embiid were both whistled for technical fouls.
The Raptors took an 11-2 lead and committed the first six fouls to none for the 76ers.
Anything that pushes and jostles might as well be cold water on the Sixers’ sleeping Big Man.
Embiid, the NBA scoring champion who had just 19 points in Game 1, was fouled hard by Siakam and made a free throw – one of 11 he made during the course. of the quarter in 12 attempts. He tied his Game 1 total with 19 points in the quarter.
VanVleet scored 17 points in the half and tried to keep the Raptors in the game. Maxey, who had 38 points in Game 1, didn’t score until he hit a float in the lane with 8:03 left in Game 2. He followed with an acrobatic layup for a 50-42 lead and suddenly the Sixers had some juice. Harden hit a 3 for an 11-point lead.
The half ended with a tense moment.
Harden tried to split two defenders on a lane drive in the closing seconds of half and his knee crashed into Embiid’s left knee. Embiid’s left ankle appeared to buckle and both players fell in a heap. The two stars sprawled on their backs for several moments: Harden rubbed his neck and head. Embiid limped down the field on the next possession.
Sixers fans held their breath at halftime.
Philly’s first bucket in the third quarter? How about Harden-to-Embiid on an alley-oop that calmed the nerves and shook the rim.
Embiid scored nine more points in the third and Maxey had seven for a 95-73 lead late in the third. Embiid had 28 points and 11 rebounds before committing his first foul midway through the fourth.
Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. was a game-time decision with an illness. He did not score and committed four fouls in the first half. He didn’t come back in a second.
76ers: Dawn Staley, a Philly native and two-time National Championship coach from South Carolina, rang the ceremonial bell.
Raptors forward Scottie Barnes sat out with a sprained left ankle suffered in Game 1. Barnes did not reveal a timeline for his comeback, but said he was “getting better every day.”
“I hope they have enough courage to at least stop the game and watch this tonight. I don’t mind the physical. It’s the playoffs, we expect it to be physical. — Nurse, before the match, on the refereeing.
The Sixers travel to Toronto and will play the next two games without defensive ace Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle, who earned a third-place finish in voting for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award, is barred from entering Canada because he is not fully vaccinated.
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