Embiid’s 53 leads 76ers over Hornets

Charlotte's losing streak is at five games

Philadelphia center Joel Embiid dunks past Kelly Oubre Jr. during the 76ers' win Sunday. (Matt Slocum / AP Photo)

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid had 53 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 131-113 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night.

With the home crowd serenading him with MVP! chants, Embiid became the first player in the NBA this season to post two 50-plus point performances, adding Sunday’s performance to a league-best 59-point effort on Nov. 13 against Utah.

“The ball just found me,” Embiid said. “I thought we moved the ball well all night and the ball just found me.”

Embiid became the third player in Sixers history to have multiple 50-point games in the same season, joining Allen Iverson (2000-01 and 2004-05) and Wilt Chamberlain (1965-66 and 1967-68). It is also the 30th game in Embiid’s career with 40 points and 10 rebounds. The only other player in franchise history to accomplish that feat was Chamberlain.

“We won,” Embiid said. “It’s good to do that when you win. … I’m just happy that I’m contributing when we are winning.”

James Harden had 19 points, 16 assists, and nine rebounds to help Embiid’s effort.

“He was in attack mode for the entire game,” Harden said. “He made scoring look easy tonight. He was aggressive getting to the basket and his jumper was falling.”

Tobias Harris scored 17 points and De’Anthony Melton added 12 for Philadelphia, which shot 55.4%.

“We didn’t run, but we played with pace and got open shots,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said.

Charlotte was led by Kelly Oubre Jr. and Terry Rozier, who each scored 29 points. The Hornets have lost five straight games.

“We had good intent tonight,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “The first six or seven minutes of the game, we had good defense. Our transition defense was a problem tonight and we have to fix that. Besides Joel, that was the story of the first half. But we did a lot of good things.”

Embiid took the game over in the final three minutes of the second quarter, scoring 15 of his 28 first-half points in that stretch by exploiting a mismatch against Hornets forward Mason Plumlee. On one play, Embiid drove down the left side of the lane from the foul line, extended high over Plumlee and threw down a thunderous dunk that charged up the Wells Fargo Center crowd. It was part of a three straight possessions stretch that ended with Embiid scoring and going to the line for the old-fashioned 3-point play.

“We have a saying that you have to feed the hot hand,” Embiid said. “… You got to keep feeding them until the defense stops it once or twice or three times in that situation. I just kept scoring and they just kept giving me the ball.”

The Hornets (7-20) stayed within striking distance through the early part of the fourth quarter, thanks to Oubre and Rozier, who were able to drive the lane and get easy looks while being helped by 15 offensive rebounds.

But Embiid put the game out of reach by scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter before being pulled with two minutes left. He finished 20 for 32 from the field and hit all 11 of his free throws.

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain, and Dennis Smith Jr. was inactive for the ninth time in his last 14 games with a left ankle sprain.

Charlotte hosts Detroit on Wednesday.