By Tommy Matthews

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey each scored 31 points and Tobias Harris added 24 as the short-handed Sixers routed the Indiana Pacers 141-121 to match their season high with an eighth consecutive victory.

The win propelled the Sixers into 2nd place in the Eastern conference, ahead of the Boston Celtics, who lose to the Utah Jazz, and 2 games back of first-place Milwaukee.

In a matchup of teams missing All-Stars — Philadelphia’s James Harden and Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton — the 76ers shot 61% from the field, led by as many as 24 points and never looked back after overcoming an early eight-point deficit.

Embiid, who set a franchise record with his ninth straight outing of at least 30 points, chipped in seven assists and seven rebounds. Philadelphia legends Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain each had eight-game runs of 30 points or more.

“Embiid is right now probably the (NBA) MVP with what their team is doing and how he’s just elevated his game,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

“He’s as a difficult a guy to plan for as there is in the game. He had 31 points and made it look like he wasn’t even trying to do it. He’s a walking cheat code.”

De’Anthony Melton started in Harden’s place and finished with 14 points, five assists, five rebounds and six steals, while Maxey had seven assists.

“I was really happy,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “Everybody contributed. Joel at times was our point guard. He probably had 15 hockey assists, and that was just terrific. Low turnovers. Against a high-scoring team on the road, you had to do that.”

Aaron Nesmith led the Pacers with 25 points and six rebounds, Andrew Nembhard scored 20 points, and Myles Turner finished with 20 points. Indiana shot 51% from the field, but never led after the first quarter and dropped to 6-4 in its last 10 games.

Philadelphia, in third place in the Eastern Conference, led 34-24 entering the second period, 72-61 at halftime and 106-95 entering the fourth before breaking it open with a 9-0 run to start the final frame. Harden missed the game due to “injury recovery,” according to the team.

“The thing about Harden being out is now the ball is going to be in Joel’s hands a lot more and Maxey’s hands a lot more, and we didn’t do enough things to make it hard on them,” Carlisle said. “Bad game for us. We just didn’t play well. Disappointing.”

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