WASHINGTON (AFP) – Joel Embiid hit a stunning 3-pointer with 0.8 of a second remaining to give the Philadelphia 76ers a shock 104-101 overtime NBA playoff victory over Toronto on Wednesday.
NBA scoring champion Embiid, a 28-year-old center from Cameroon, took an inbound pass near the sideline with less than a second on the shot clock, turned to the hoop and fired, sinking his first career last-second game winner after 14 prior misses.
“That’s the best one,” Embiid said of his last-second shots. “Just get the ball to me or whoever was open. We did that and I’m glad I made a good play.”
Embiid, a 2022 NBA Most Valuable Player award finalist, scored a game-high 33 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as the visiting Sixers rallied from a 17-point deficit to seize a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, which they can sweep in game four on Saturday.
“The job is not done,” Embiid said. “We’ve got one more. We’ve got to come back here and try to beat them again.”
Philadelphia trailed by as many as 17 points and never led until overtime, taking their largest lead on Embiid’s decider.
The Sixers weren’t the only team to overcome a 17-point hole and win as the Boston Celtics took a 114-107 fightback victory over visiting Brooklyn thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback, the Celtics seizing a 2-0 series edge over the Nets.
Philadelphia’s James Harden had 19 points and 10 assists before fouling out in the final seconds of regulation time. Tyrese Maxey added 19 points and Tobias Harris had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers.
It was a heartbreaker for the Raptors, who were led by 26 points from O.G. Anunoby and 24 from Gary Trent Jr. with Precious Achiuwa adding 20 off the bench.
The 76ers matched a season high with 21 turnovers, 15 of them in the first half setting up 21 Toronto points.
“The first half I was just floating around. I didn’t really want the ball,” Embiid said. “Coach got on me, said I’m the biggest guy out there and I have to dominate. That’s what I tried to do (after halftime).”
At Boston, Jaylen Brown scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and Jayson Tatum added 19 for the Celtics.
The Nets never trailed until the final eight minutes as Boston charged back from a 17-point second-quarter deficit.
Kevin Durant led Brooklyn with 27 points but was tested all night by swarming, physical Boston defenders in a bruising contest — the Celtics having led the league in defensive statistics.
Durant, a former NBA Most Valuable Player, shot 4-of-17 from the floor, 0-for-10 with four turnovers in the second half.
Kyrie Irving, heckled and booed by the fans who cheered him in his days with Boston, was only 4-of-13 from the floor for 10 points.
Grant Williams had 17 points off the Boston bench while Al Horford had 16 points and Daniel Theis added 15 for the Celtics.
The Celtics couldn’t grab their first lead until reserve Payton Pritchard hit a jumper to make it 94-92 with 7:49 remaining.
The Nets managed only two points over four minutes and Boston unleashed a 23-4 run in the fourth for the triumph.