By Tommy Matthews
Joel Embiid drained 34 points and James Harden had 18 points and 14 assists as the 76ers went wire-to-wire for a 112-93 win over the Washington Wizards.
Tobias Harris added 11 points and De’Anthony Melton 10 for the 76ers (45-22), who have won five in a row to keep pressure on Milwaukee and Boston for the top two seeds in a crowded Eastern Conference. Philadelphia now plays seven of its next eight games on the road.
The Sixers are 1 1/2 games behind No. 2 Boston and 3 games back of Milwaukee in the East.
“When you are not playing the fourth quarter, that usually means something good,” said Embiid, who was 12 for 21 from the floor in 31 minutes. “Everyone contributed for us.”
Washington (31-37) got a career-high 25 points from Corey Kispert and 13 from Bradley Beal, but dropped its fifth game in its last six. The Wizards also fell out of a tie for the 10th and final spot in the Eastern Conference’s play-in tournament, a half-game behind idle Chicago.
Philadelphia’s defense had struggled lately, but not against the Wizards.
The Wizards shot 6 for 26 from beyond the arc. The Sixers had forward P.J. Tucker more as a rim protector matching up against Washington’s Kristaps Porzingis, sending Embiid away from the basket to provide length against Beal and Washington’s 3-point shooters.
“We did a really good job of being physical and switching,” Harden said. “We were able to guard shots, spread the floor and get dribble penetration. It’s just beautiful basketball.”
Embiid and Harden did the bulk of their damage in three quarters, sitting out large portions of the fourth as stretching the Philadelphia lead to 81-69. Embiid added eight rebounds and four assists despite not playing any time in the final 12 minutes.