By Jerry Wein

Joel Embiid had 34 points and 12 rebounds and Ben Simmons tipped in the game-winner off a miss from Embiid as time expired as the visiting Sixers beat the undermanned San Antonio Spurs 113-111 in overtime.

The Sixers sit at 43-21, good enough for first place in the East, a half-game ahead of the Nets.

Seth Curry scored 22 points and Dwight Howard added 14.

Simmons finished with five points, six rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes.

Lonnie Walker IV had 23 points to lead the Spurs, who lost their third straight. Keldon Johnson added 19 points, Rudy Gay had 18 and Gorgui Dieng 17.

The Spurs were without four starters as Dejounte Murray and Derrick White missed the game due to injuries and DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl sat out for rest.

San Antonio tied the game at 102 on Gay’s 3-pointer with 2:37 remaining in regulation. The Sixers reclaimed the lead on the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer by Curry only to watch Johnson hit another game-tying 3.

Embiid and Johnson muscled their way into the lane to keep the game tied at 107 with 1:03 remaining. After Matisse Thybulle blocked Patty Mills’ 3-point attempt, Embiid missed a fade-away jumper from 15 feet to send the game to overtime.

Both teams struggled offensively in overtime, combining to score just nine points on 3-for-11 shooting.

San Antonio employed a zone defense early to counter a stronger Philadelphia starting lineup, but Embiid ruined that strategy. The Sixers’ wings found holes in the zone and either passed to Embiid or the 76ers center gathered and followed up a missed shot. Embiid had 13 points in the first quarter, including 12 in the paint.

Philly’s reserves added to the advantage, building a 17-point lead behind Howard and former Spurs guard George Hill.

Hill finished with five points in 19 minutes.

Both teams were playing the opener of a back-to-back with the Spurs traveling to face the Utah Jazz on Monday while the 76ers play at Chicago.