PHILADELPHIA - Joel Embiid scored 18 points playing with a dislocated left ring finger, Ben Simmons had 17 points and 15 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped a four-game losing streak, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-113 on Monday night.
The 76ers lost all four games on a trip that knocked them down the Eastern Conference standings and raised questions about how far this team can go in the playoffs.
They usually last in the postseason as long as a healthy Embiid can take them. The All-Star center dislocated his left ring finger in the first quarter, an injury so gnarly that the bent finger stretched across his pinkie and the sight did a number on gag reflexes for those watching at home. Embiid made a brief stop in the locker room, got the finger taped and returned to start the second quarter. Perhaps it's why he wasn't his usual force on the glass and lost a bunch of rebounds to Steven Adams.
The Thunder, who had won five straight, closed within two with 3 minutes left before the Sixers scored nine straight points to put the game away. Embiid's fingers looked fine on a dish to Tobias Harris for a dunk, and Harris buried a 3 to make it 115-106.
Adams had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Chris Paul scored 18 points.
Josh Richardson scored 23 points for the Sixers, and Simmons fell two assists shy of a triple-double in another solid game without a basket beyond 22 feet.
Simmons is an All-Star and triple-double threat but for whatever reason, he won't shoot 3-pointers. His only two career 3s have come this season and after he made one in a Dec. 7 win against Cleveland, coach Brett Brown implored Simmons to shoot more of them.
"This is what I want," Brown said that night. "I want a 3-point shot per game, minimum. He will be liberated. His world will open up and, in many ways, so will ours."
Simmons responded to Brown's edict by doubling down on his refusal to shoot 3s. He had a meaningless heave in a Dec. 10 game against Denver but otherwise has not attempted an honest 3.
Brown acknowledged Simmons has disregarded his request.
"Evidently, I have failed," Brown said. "It's something that we're all mindful and this is one of these things that is never going to go away. The attention that this has received is remarkable. I guess I helped fuel it. I own it. I've got to help him find this and most importantly he has to help himself."
The Sixers need more 3-point shooting, period. They made only six in each of the last two losses and returned home hopeful of finding the stroke that saw them hit a franchise record-tying 21 3s in a Christmas win over Milwaukee.
"This team needs to find more 3-point opportunities. We do," Brown said. "We need to hunt 3s in a more definitive way than we currently are."
The 76ers got that message, at least early, and they finished an efficient 13 for 26 on 3s.
Harris hit three of Philly's eight 3s (on 14 attempts) in the first half for a 62-52 lead at the break. But they hit just two in the third — and whiffed on a few easy looks at the basket — and had their 14-point lead sliced to 90-86.
Thunder: Missed 10 of 31 free throws. Dennis Schroder scored 21 points.
76ers: Shot 51% from the floor.
The Thunder finish their trip Tuesday in Brooklyn.
The Sixers host the Celtics on Thursday.
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