JOJO AND THE SIXERS TOO MUCH FOR WOEFUL ROCKETS

By Jerry Wein

Joel Embiid had 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the Sixers 133-113 win over the Houston Rockets.

Embiid got a triple double but only when, with nine assists in the fourth quarter, he passed to Seth Curry for a bucket. He shot 12 of 20 from the floor in 30 minutes.

“He was not going to let us lose that game,” acting coach Dan Burke said.

Furkan Korkmaz had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Isaiah Joe scored 18 points for the Sixers.

Garrison Mathews led the Rockets with 23 points.

The Rockets played without guard Kevin Porter Jr. and forward Christian Woodafter they were each suspended one game for bad behavior. Porter and Wood both had meltdowns in a loss Saturday to Denver. Rockets coach Stephen Silas said it was “best for our culture” to sit the duo for a game.

“It should be a bump in the road and we continue on,” Silas said. “If you really love somebody, you don’t take an instance and say that’s it or make it to where it’s more than it is. You love them. And when stuff like this happens, you love them even more.”

Embiid played the entire first quarter and carried the Sixers to a 34-30 lead. Korkmaz, making only his eighth start, stepped in as the able sidekick and hit three 3-pointers. Korkmaz subbed for Tyrese Maxey who, along with Matisse Thybulle, entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

That left the Sixers without two key contributors.

“There seems to be a perception because you have Joel Embiid, you’re not missing guys,” Burke said.

The 76ers again played a short-handed team they were expected to beat easily — had them as 13-point favorites — and criticism over recent losses or slim-margin victories against weaker teams led to a terse exchange from coach Doc Rivers with a reporter after a win against Toronto.

Sure enough, the malaise continued and the Sixers trailed 63-62 at halftime. Embiid and Korkmaz combined for 22 points in the third and Philly shot 14 of 19 (74%) from the floor to put away the Rockets.

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