NBA playoffs: 76ers roll as Embiid dazzles in his debut; Warriors, Pelicans go up 3-0
A masked Joel Embiid scored 23 points in his postseason debut, Marco Belinelli and Dario Saric each added 21 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat 128-108 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Ben Simmons finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the 76ers, who won for the 18th time in their last 19 games and reclaimed home-court advantage. Embiid went on a personal 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to help Philadelphia extend its lead to 14, and send many in the crowd to the exits.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points for Miami, which got 19 from Justise Winslow and 14 from Josh Richardson.
Game 4 is Saturday afternoon.
Embiid was announced as doubtful to start the day, then was upgraded to probable in the afternoon and eventually cleared to start. He wore a mask and goggles to protect the surgically repaired orbital bone around his left eye, though his new accessory didn’t exactly seem up to the rigors of playoff basketball — needing to be swapped out at least twice.
The mask needs some work.
Embiid was right back in form.
He banked in a turnaround straightaway jumper — a fortuitous bounce — to put Philadelphia up nine late, then connected on a 3-pointer and added a pair of throws to start the spurt that put the game away for Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Miami couldn’t find any sort of stride.
Warriors 110, at Spurs 97: Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat San Antonio 110-97 on Thursday night for a 3-0 series lead over the Spurs, who were still reeling from the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin.
Golden State can close the first-round series with a win Sunday afternoon in San Antonio in Game 4.
The Spurs were playing a day after the death of Erin Popovich, who passed away after battling an undisclosed long-term illness. Erin and Gregg Popovich were married four decades and had two children and two grandchildren.
San Antonio did not air a video tribute or hold a moment of silence for Erin in an apparent attempt to make the game as routine as possible for its players, but that was impossible.
Coach Popovich was not in his customary position roaming the sidelines, choosing instead to be with his family. San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina coached the team in Popovich’s place.
Pelicans 119, at Trail Blazers 102: Nikola Mirotic scored a career playoff-best 30 points to go with eight rebounds, three steals and a block, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-102 on Thursday night to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Anthony Davis had 28 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks for New Orleans, which can advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008 with one more victory.
The 6-foot-10 Mirotic, acquired in a midseason trade after DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tear, made 12 of 15 shots, scoring on everything from quick-release 3-pointers to cutting dunks and fast-break layups.
Damian Lillard scored 20 for Portland, but also missed nine of 14 shots. CJ McCollum scored 22 and Al-Farouq Aminu added 21, but Portland trailed by double digits for most of the first half and all of the second.
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