76ers beat Timberwolves in overtime to end four-game skid

APTOPIX 76ers Timberwolves Basketball
Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler drives against Richaun Holmes of the Sixers during the fourth quarter.

MINNEAPOLIS  — The 76ers picked up a much-needed victory.

Tuesday’s 118-112 overtime decision over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center snapped their four-game losing streak.

The Sixers (14-13) used a balanced effort to escape with the win against the Timberwolves (16-12).

Joel Embiid finished team highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds. He and Ben Simmons were tied for game-high honors in assists with eight. Embiid sat out the previous game with tightness in his back.

“Coming into this game I didn’t feel 100 percent, but I pushed through it,” said Embiid, who was a game-time decision. “I came out of the game pretty good. So I just got to keep getting treatment on making sure it’s not tight.”

Embiid played a career-high 39 minutes, 26 seconds. That was partly because of his back.  While on the bench, he told the Sixers staff that he couldn’t sit very long because doing so would lead to his back tightening up.

“But while I was playing, I didn’t have the lift that I usually have,” he said. “But I got out of this game pretty well.”

However, he did have a scare with 14.3 seconds left in the third quarter.

His chest collided with the back of Timberwolves power forward Taj Gibson’s while going for an offensive rebound. Embiid fell to the court on the play. After getting up, the center clutched his chest. He was taken out during a break in action with 7.2 seconds left. However, he returned at the start of the fourth quarter.

In addition to his eight assists, Simmons finished with seven points and three rebounds. All of his points came late in the fourth quarter and in overtime.

[Box score]

Meanwhile, JJ Redick (26 points), Richaun Holmes (season highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds), Dario Saric (14 points) and Trevor Booker (12 points) were the Sixers other double-figure scorers.

Holmes got the start at power forward as Robert Covington missed his second straight game with a lower-back contusion. Saric, the normal starting power forward, replaced Covington at small forward. That opened up the starting spot for Holmes.

Minnesota shooting guard Jimmy Butler finished with a game-high 38 points.

Embiid forced overtime by making a pair of foul shots with 14.8 seconds left in regulation to knot the score at 100.  The Timberwolves had a chance to win in regulation, but Butler misfired on a last-second jumper.

The Sixers then scored the first six points of the overtime en route to leading the rest of the way.  Saric made a foul shot. Embiid followed that up with a jumper. Then Redick converted three foul shots after being fouled on a three-point attempt.

In regulation, the Sixers faced a six-point deficit with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left in regulation after a Butler dunk.  At that moment, Brett Brown called a timeout.

Reserve swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot screamed to his teammates,  ‘Why are your heads down? We are only down six points.”

“After that we reacted like a team,” Saric said. “I scored some shots. Joel scored some shots. JJ, too. Ben got one, two dunks in the end.”

Simmons didn’t score his first basket until a dunk with 1:17 seconds remaining in regulation on an assist from Embiid. It was a timely one, giving the Sixers a 96-94 advantage.

“The game was close the whole time, I knew my points were going to come. I wasn’t trying to force it,” said Simmons, who finished 3-for-8 from the field after missing his first four attempts. “They came at the perfect time.”

Butler made a three-pointer to put the Timberwolves up one with 47 seconds later. But Simmons responded with a layup to put the Sixers back on top on another assist from Embiid. Butler came back and buried another three to put Minnesota up, 100-98, with 17 seconds remaining.

The Sixers committed a season-high 26 turnovers.

T. J. McConnell finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists after missing the previous two games and three of the previous five with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder.