PHILADELPHIA – Joel Embiid’s back was hurting. Luckily, for the 76ers his game was not.
Embiid had 31 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists and hit a key jumper late to help Philadelphia beat the Houston Rockets 118-113 on Wednesday night.
Seth Curry scored 25 points and Tobias Harris added 24 for the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Ben Simmons (illness) didn’t play for the 76ers a game after scoring a career-high 42 points and adding nine rebounds and 12 assists.
John Wall scored 28 points for the short-handed Rockets. Houston, playing without injured starters P.J. Tucker, Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo, has lost seven in a row. DeMarcus Cousins and Jae’Sean Tate had 19 points each and Eric Gordon contributed 17.
Embiid returned to the lineup after sitting out Monday’s 134-123 loss at Utah due to back stiffness. The 76ers’ big man looked sluggish at times in the first half and grabbed at his back after getting his shot blocked by Cousins with 47.8 seconds left in the first half.
“The whole game it was pretty tight,” he said.
It looked like Philadelphia’s star big man might be able to rest his aching back in the second half. The 76ers led by 29 points and looked on their way to an easy victory when Tyrese Maxey’s two free throws made it 100-82 with 10:07 to play. But Philadelphia relaxed enough to let Houston slowly back into the contest.
“We got sloppy,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said.