PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid is on a mission to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards. If he keeps up this pace, he'll make it easy on voters.
Embiid had 31 points and 19 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 121-120 on Wednesday night after Anthony Davis missed the third of three free throws with 2.5 seconds left.
Embiid reached at least 30 points and 15 rebounds for the 12th time this season. He was serenaded frequently with loud chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" from the raucous home crowd.
"If we win 50 to 55 games and have these numbers, I think I have a pretty good chance," Embiid said.
Davis had 12 points and 16 rebounds in a showdown between two of the NBA's top big men. Davis entered averaging 27.6 points per game, just below Embiid's 27.9. The Pelicans center was coming off an impressive 29-point, nine-rebound outing in New Orleans' 140-126 victory over San Antonio on Monday.
But, like most of the rest of the league this season, he was no match for Embiid.
"The reality of how important he is to our team is ever-present," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "How can we all not notice how dominant he's been?"
Embiid had his way with New Orleans, finishing 11 of 23 from the field and 7 of 9 from the free-throw line. He also was 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. With his strength and size inside, as well as ability to shoot from outside, Embiid has been nearly impossible to guard this season. He has double-doubles in 18 of Philadelphia's 20 games, leading the NBA.
"As stupid as it sounds, we did a pretty good job on him," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "That's a hell of a compliment to him to say we did a good job."
The 76ers are 10-0 at home this season. They looked in control, up nine points with just under 2 ½ minutes to play, before a late surge by the Pelicans.
Embiid fouled Davis on a 3-point attempt, and Davis calmly swished the first two free throws before the third went in and out. Davis grabbed the rebound, but his wild attempt at a winning shot was off the mark.
Ben Simmons added 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the 76ers, who won their fourth straight. Philadelphia is the lone team in the NBA undefeated at home.
The Pelicans had won three in a row and six of seven. E'Twaun Moore and Jrue Holiday led New Orleans with 30 points apiece, and Julius Randle had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The 76ers were seemingly in control when Wilson Chandler hit a 3-pointer to make it 119-110 with 2:24 left. But consecutive 3-pointers by Moore and Nikola Mirotic pulled the Pelicans within 119-118 with 1:08 left. J.J. Redick, enduring a rare cold shooting night, scored on a drive with 53.2 seconds to play to put Philadelphia ahead three. Davis misfired on a 3, but Philadelphia's lead remained 121-118 after Simmons missed a 10-foot jumper to set up the game-deciding sequence.
HOME SWEET HOME
The 76ers have a long way to go to get anywhere close to the 1985-86 Celtics, who hold the NBA home regular-season record of 40-1. But Philadelphia clearly is stamping out its home court as a tough place for opponents.
"There's pride and we don't want to let anyone down here," Simmons said.
AS FULTZ TURNS
Philadelphia played without guard Markelle Fultz. The 2017 No. 1 overall pick was on the bench but not in uniform after his agent informed the team Tuesday that Fultz would not practice or play with the team until consulting a specialist for his right shoulder. The demand from Fultz's representative came a day after the guard was benched for T.J. McConnell in the second half of Philadelphia's 119-114 win over the Suns on Monday.
Fultz played just 14 games last season due to a shoulder injury that may or may not have affected his shot, which has become one of the most scrutinized in the NBA. The 20-year-old is averaging 8.2 points and 3.1 assists in 23 minutes per game this season shooting just 42 percent from the field.
Pelicans: Davis reached 10,000 career points with a dunk late in the first half. ... New Orleans dropped to 2-7 on the road. The Pelicans will play their next two away from home, at the Knicks on Friday and at Washington on Saturday. .. G Elfrid Payton had successful surgery Tuesday on the little finger on his left hand, the team said. He is expected back in six weeks.
76ers: Embiid chided McConnell for missing a layup in the first half and McConnell shot back, "So what!" ... Jimmy Butler had 13 points in his fifth game with the 76ers. ... Redick, normally a sharpshooter, missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.
Pelicans: At Knicks on Friday night.
76ers: Host Cleveland on Friday night.