“I mean, all you really have to do, in my eyes, is look what happens when we don’t have him,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said of Joel Embiid’s value. “And look at some of the first halves that he has produced that has forced our position (and) coaches to make incredible adjustments in the second half. And I think that in my eyes it’s not even close he should be in these types of (MVP) conversations.”

By Harry Allison

Well, yes, Brett Brown is a bit biased.

But there is no question that Embiid is a legit MVP candidate.

Just ask reigning NBA MVP James Harden (above), who tangled with the Sixers center the other night during a 121-93 Philly blowout.

The 76ers improved to 20-5 at home and Embiid led the way with 32 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Landry Shamet also scored 18 points and JJ Redick added 16.

Embiid registered his league-high 20th game this season with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. The last Philly player with a minimum of 20 games with 30 points and 10 rebounds was Charles Barkley in the 1990-91 season when he had 22.

The Sixers’ defense was solid against the Rockets as they recorded 14 blocked shots, one short of tying a season high of 15 set against the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 9, 2018.

“Our defense was great, especially in the third quarter,” Embiid said. “I think they only had 13 points. We did a pretty good job, so we’ve got to keep moving on that and get better but it was good to see.”

Jimmy Butler missed the game against the Rockets with a sore wrist and he’s questionable against the Spurs tonight. Point guard Ben Simmons (upper respiratory infection) also is questionable.

The Spurs are looking to respond following a disappointing 103-95 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points and swept 14 rebounds, but the Spurs were awkward with the basketball and committed an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers.

“I think they out-executed us and out-competed us tonight every way, shape and form,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “And, we were sloppy with the ball on top of it, so that’s a bad combination.”

DeMar DeRozan scored only eight points, his second-fewest total since joining the Spurs. DeRozan has been dealing with a tender ankle and he missed the prior game.

In addition, DeRozan was 4 of 16 from the field for his worst shooting game in a Spurs uniform.

“The next game’s going to come and he’s going to do what he does,” Spurs guard Derrick White told reporters about DeRozan. “It happens, it’s a long season. I’m not too worried about it.”

However, DeRozan has scored 20 or more points in each of his last five games against the Sixers.

Rudy Gay contributed 19 points for the Spurs. And forward Marco Belinelli knocked down a pair of 3-pointers on seven attempts and notched his 300th career trey with the Spurs. Belinelli, who became the 13th player in franchise history to record 300 treys, finished last season with the Sixers.

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