PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid was simply unstoppable.
Embiid scored a career-high 50 points to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 112-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
Embiid added 17 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and two steals in a dominating performance at both ends of the court.
"The only difference from this year and last year is about me being willing to dominate every single moment I'm on the floor on defense and on offense," Embiid said.
Tobias Harris had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers, who played without Ben Simmons (illness) for the second straight game and clinched coaching duties for Doc Rivers at the All-Star Game.
Having Embiid, of course, has helped.
"It's good to have him on our side, I'll tell you that," Rivers said.
Zach LaVine scored 30 points for the Bulls.
With the 76ers clinging to a 107-103 lead, Embiid blocked LaVine's driving attempt with 1:02 remaining, then hit a 17-foot baseline jumper with 41 seconds left. When the Bulls called timeout, Embiid jogged to center court and put both hands up as if requesting cheers from the empty seats while the speakers played artificial "M-V-P!" "M-V-P!" chants.
"I play for the fans, and I play for the city," Embiid said. "I always feel like they're here with us even though they're not."
The Bulls did fine when Embiid wasn't in the game.
With Embiid on the bench at the start of the fourth, the Bulls used a 10-2 run over the first 3 1/2 minutes to take an 89-87 lead after Ryan Arcidiacono stole an inbounds pass and converted a three-point play.
Then Embiid returned and scored six points during a 7-0 spurt that made it 94-89. After hitting a 16-footer, he grabbed an offensive rebound and made both free throws after getting fouled and then pulled down another offensive board and scored on a follow on the next possession.
"It really just feels like he's unstoppable," Philadelphia's Matisse Thybulle said. "You start to think that maybe there's no answer for him."
It was still a game, though, as LaVine and the Bulls were playing tough until Embiid clinched it with his defensive and offensive prowess.
"Overall I thought the guys really competed, battled and hung in there," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
Voted an All-Star for the fourth consecutive season on Thursday, Embiid scored 25 first-half points in a variety of ways, seemingly however he wanted.
"I've been adding a lot to my game and it's been working well," he said.
Embiid put an exclamation point on the half with 33 seconds remaining before the break by dribbling from Philadelphia's free throw line, deking past Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls' paint, scoring and getting fouled -- an amazing show of athleticism from the 7-foot-2 big man.
Then, during one 29-second stretch in the third quarter, Embiid hit a 3-pointer, stole Thad Young's pass and then assisted Tyrese Maxey's fast-break layup. Maxey's bucket gave Philadelphia its largest lead, 83-73 with 1:59 left in the third.
Bulls: Arcidiacono, who played collegiately at nearby Villanova, had 10 points and four assists. … Have lost six in a row in Philadelphia. … Mo Cheeks, whose retired No. 10 76ers jersey hangs in the rafters in Philadelphia, is an assistant for the Bulls.
76ers: Shake Milton (ankle) missed his fifth straight game, but Rivers said before the contest that he expects Milton to return on Sunday. … Improved to 13-2 at home. … Embiid's previous career high was 49 points.
NUGGETS 120, CAVALIERS 103
CLEVELAND (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a career-high 50 points, All-Star starter Nikola Jokic had a triple-double and Denver adjusted to a schedule change by handing Cleveland its ninth straight loss in a matchup hastily arranged by the NBA due to COVID-19.
Murray hardly missed, making 21 of 25 shots, including 8 of 10 3-pointers. He didn't attempt a free throw. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first player in league history to score 50 or more points without shooting a free throw.
With the Cavs still hanging around in the fourth, Murray made three 3-pointers in 1:05 to push Denver's lead to 21. He scored 20 points in the final quarter before being replaced with 2:23 left.
Jokic, on his 26th biurthday, had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season. Collin Sexton scored 23 points, and Jarrett Allen had 20 for Cleveland.
SUNS 132, PELICANS 114
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Chris Paul had 15 points and a season-high 19 assists, spearheading an 11-point, fourth-quarter comeback in Phoenix's victory over New Orleans.
Paul, who rose to stardom with New Orleans after being drafted fourth overall in 2005, appeared to be gesturing that he owned the arena after hitting a step-back 3 that gave Phoenix a 118-107 lead with less than five minutes to go. The Suns outscored the Pelicans 41-12 in the final quarter.
Paul's decisive 3, his third of the game, was one of 22 the Suns hit from deep on 39 attempts (56.4%). Jae Crowder hit six 3s on his way to 20 points, and Frank Kaminsky madehit five 3s for the bulk of his 17 points. Devin Booker scored 23 points to help the Suns rebound from a tough home loss to Brooklyn to win for the 10th time in 12 games.
Brandon Ingram scored 25 points for the Pelicans, and Zion Williamson added 23. They've lost five of six.
MAGIC 124, WARRIORS 120
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Nikola Vucevic had 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double and Orlando overcame a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Golden State.
Vucevic made two free throws with 16 seconds left to put Orlando ahead 123-120 after Warriors star Stephen Curry hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute.
Curry missed an off-balance 3-pointer from 27 feet with five seconds left that could have tied it. He finished with 29 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Golden State was trying to win three straight games for the first time this season, but failed to get past two in a row for the seventh time.
Evan Fournier scored a season-high 28 points for Orlando, and Terrence Ross had 24 points and four 3-pointers. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 26 points for Golden State.
BUCKS 98, THUNDER 85
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and eight assists, and Milwaukee beat Oklahoma City to snap a five-game skid.
The Bucks avoided their first six-game losing streak since March 12-22, 2015. They hadn't lost five straight since Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 in 2017.
Khris Middleton added 20 points for the Bucks. Lu Dort had 17 for the Thunder.
CELTICS 121, HAWKS 109
BOSTON (AP) — Kemba Walker scored a season-high 28 points and Boston held off Atlanta.
Jayson Tatum added 25 points and eight rebounds, and Jaylen Brown and Tristan Thompson each finished with 17 points to help Boston take the second of back-to-back meetings between the teams. The Hawks won the first meeting Wednesday night.
Trae Young led the Hawks with 31 points. Atlanta has lost five of six.
GRIZZLIES 109, PISTONS 95
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half, Jonas Valanciunas added 17 points and 15 rebounds and Memphis rallied to beat Detroit.
Kyle Anderson added 16 for Memphis. Jerami Grant and Delon Wright led the Pistons with 16 points each.
RAPTORS 86, TIMBERWOLVES 81
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Norman Powell scored a season-high 31 points and Toronto closed with an 11-0 run to beat Minnesota for its third straight victory.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 19 points and 13 rebounds.