PHILADELPHIA – Joel Embiid isn’t content with being one of the NBA’s best players. He wants more for himself and the 76ers — and it showed.
Embiid had 40 points and 19 rebounds and hit a tying 3-pointer late in regulation, Tobias Harris scored 11 of his 22 points in overtime, and Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia beat the West-leading Utah Jazz 131-123 on Wednesday night.
Ben Simmons added 17 points for the 76ers, who improved to 24-12.
The game included four players who will be participating in Sunday’s All-Star game in Embiid and Simmons, and Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the Jazz.
Embiid rose above the rest.
“Those are the matchups you want to dominate and prove we have a great team,” Embiid said.
The four-time All-Star is eager to add the NBA’s top defensive award to his mantel.
“I want to dominate on the offensive end but mainly on the defensive end,” he said.
Once again, he did both to help Philadelphia avenge last month’s loss to the Jazz.
The Jazz beat Philadelphia 134-123 on Feb. 15 in Utah when Embiid sat with a back injury. Simmons had 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in that game, but Jordan Clarkson hit eight 3-pointers and scored 40 points for Utah.
All the stars were available for this one, and they put on a show.
Philadelphia tied it early in the fourth, and the teams went back and forth down the stretch with neither leading by more than five.
Mike Conley’s two free throws put Utah ahead 118-115 with 21.5 seconds left in regulation. The 76ers couldn’t free their shooters for a tying 3, so Embiid stepped back and drained one himself with 5.9 seconds remaining. Conley quickly drove the length of the court and had a chance to win it, but his runner from the foul line rimmed out.
“Very comfortable shot and one I’ve made a thousand times,” Conley said. “It’s just unfortunate it didn’t go in.”
Harris took over offensively for Philadelphia in the extra session, scoring the 76ers’ first eight points and giving them a 126-123 advantage on a turnaround jumper with 1:37 left.
“That’s why I’ve been preaching for him to be an All-Star,” Embiid said. “He dominated in overtime.”
Philadelphia all but clinched it on their next possession when Mitchell was whistled for a technical and Seth Curry made the free throw, and Embiid made one of two earned from the original foul to make it 128-123.
Mitchell had 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Jazz, who lost their second straight. Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points apiece for Utah.
Mitchell was ejected with 30.8 seconds left in overtime after picking up his second technical. He got his first with 57.5 seconds remaining in the extra period after arguing a foul call and didn’t hold back afterward.
“I’m never ever one to blame the refs, but this is getting out of hand,” he said. “We continually get screwed. It’s getting ridiculous that this is what’s happening. I’m sick of it, we all are. It eats at me, man. It’s really, really, really getting out of hand. The league needs to do something about this.”
Simmons and Mitchell delivered All-Star-worthy highlights on consecutive third-quarter possessions. First, Simmons stole the ball near Utah’s foul line, dribbled the length of the court and finished with a dunk after being fouled. Then, Mitchell attempted to posterize Embiid, rising high and trying to dunk over the 7-foot-2 center. Embiid denied the dunk while fouling Mitchell, whose attempt bounced around the rim and into the basket.
BREAK IN NAME ONLY
While most in the NBA will have a few days off this weekend, 76ers coach Doc Rivers and Utah coach Quin Snyder will be leading Team Durant and Team LeBron in Sunday’s All-Star game.
Rivers said he’ll find time to get in a few rounds of golf, and both coaches said the break will be a chance to recharge emotionally — even if they’re still coaching.
“You still get a mental break, if nothing else,” Rivers said. “I’ll take advantage of that.”
Said Snyder: “It’s an opportunity to collect yourself.”
Jazz: Gobert had 12 points and nine rebounds. ... Utah is 12-7 on the road.
76ers: Wednesday’s game was expected to be the last in Philly without fans. Beginning with their home game against the Spurs on March 14, the 76ers can host 3,100 fans. ... Harris returned after missing the last two games with a right knee bruise. ... Philly improved to 16-3 at home.
Jazz: Host Houston on March 12.
76ers: At Chicago on March 11.
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