PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James Harden scored 31 points, Joel Embiid had 24 points and 11 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Miami Heat 116-108 in Game 4 on Sunday night to even advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals series.
The Heat won their first two games in Miami without Embiid with a fractured right orbit and a minor concussion. The 76ers won Games 3 and 4 at home with Embiid and his mask in the lineup.
Game 5 takes place in Miami on Tuesday night.
Embiid is ready. That’s Harden. And if the Heat can’t figure these two out, the next thing they’re about to face could be the offseason.
The Heat took the lead and came within five until Harden pocketed his fifth 3-pointer of the game with three minutes to go. Harden shattered the Heat with catch-and-shoot threes, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot in the fourth.
He was finally playing in the postseason like the three-time leading scorer the Sixers needed when they traded him in February.
Harden drilled a step-back 3 for a 114-103 lead that sent the crowd into a frenzy — and breathed new life into the Sixers to Miami.
Jimmy Butler scored 40 points and almost a man forced the Heat to win. The Heat missed 28 of 35 3-pointers.
Embiid worked out the Game 3 cobwebs and returned to the dominant form that earned him “MVP!” for the season. Chants from the diehard Philly. His first quarter was about as good as center gets. He made 5 of 6 shots, including a 3-pointer, and scored 15 points to put the Sixers ahead. Exhausted from days of inactivity due to the concussion in Game 3, Embiid played all 12 minutes in the quarter.
“He’s really weathering the storm and coming through things,” coach Doc Rivers said before the game.
Harden took over the next quarter. After a scoreless first quarter, Harden scored 13 points in the second. He missed his first four shots of the game until he buried a 3 and then got rolling. He bucketed in transition during a 15-2 run and then waved his arms at the crowd, urging them to raise their voices.
Philadelphia shot 64% from the floor at halftime. But 10 turnovers — which Miami converted to 13 points — kept the Sixers from extending the lead well into double digits. The Sixers made nine 3s at halftime to Miami’s four.
Butler kept the Heat in play with six straight points. He hit a layup, was nailed in the face by Embiid – who was called for a flagrant whistle and then helped his former teammate to his feet – and Butler took the free throw. Butler hit a 3 from possession and the Heat drew 74-70.
Butler drew Embid’s third foul with 1:37 in the third, converting the three-point play that kept the Heat within four. Butler trolled Embiid on Instagram after the Sixers posted a picture of him in the makeup and quoted a line from “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“(Expletive) your mask,” Butler wrote.
Butler scored 17 points in the third, but the Heat was still trailing 89-85. The 76ers fans let him have it when Butler fired an airball in the fourth and Harden came straight down and hit a steptback 3 for a 97-85 lead.
Heat: Dewayne Dedmon (illness) sat out Game 4. … Lowry, who scored his first bucket of the series on a layup, went into the dressing room with a stubborn hamstring in the first half. He missed four straight playoff games before Game 3 with a strained left hamstring.
76ers: Isaiah Joe (sprained right ankle) was not used.
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