WASHINGTON — After the Philadelphia 76ers lost NBA MVP finalist Joel Embiid to what the team called a sore right knee late in the first quarter Monday night, they lost their lead — and their chance at the franchise’s first playoff sweep in 36 years.
With Embiid gone for most of Game 4, Bradley Beal’s 27 points, Russell Westbrook’s 12th career playoff triple-double and Washington’s strategy of fouling Ben Simmons whenever possible down the stretch all helped the Wizards beat the 76ers 122-114 to cut Philadelphia’s series edge to 3-1.
“Each guy thought they had to win the game for us,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said about what happened to his team’s offense after Embiid departed. “You’ve still got to play right. … Tonight we didn’t play right, on either end.”
Asked for more information about Embiid’s knee, Rivers said, “I really don’t know,” and added that some “precautionary” tests will be done Tuesday.
Tobias Harris, who led the Sixers with 21 points and 13 rebounds, summed up his club’s situation this way: “It’s not the end of the world.”
“Obviously,” Simmons said, “we need Joel to win. He’s a big part of this team.”
Game 5 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series is Wednesday at Philadelphia.
Won’t be easy for that one to be as eventful as this one was, including the third-quarter sight of a spectator running out of the stands and onto the court before being slammed to the ground by a security guard — the latest example of NBA Fans Gone Wild.
“It’s actually embarrassing,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Unacceptable.”
Nothing had as much of an effect on the outcome and, potentially, the rest of this postseason for Philadelphia, the East’s No. 1 seed, as what happened to Embiid, who came into the night averaging better than a point per minute in the series.
In Game 3’s 29-point win for the 76ers, for example, he produced a playoff career-high 36 points in 28 minutes against the Wizards, who needed to go through the play-in round just to get the No. 8 seed.
But the center headed to the locker room late in the first quarter after taking a hard fall behind the baseline when his shot was blocked by Robin Lopez. Embiid tried to play on, wincing and leaning over during breaks in play, before checking out eventually and limping off.
JAZZ 120, GRIZZLIES 113
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points, and the top-seeded Utah Jazz grabbed a 3-1 lead.
Now the team with the NBA’s best record in the regular season can close out this first round, best-of-seven series Wednesday night in Game 5 in Salt Lake City.
All-Star Rudy Gobert scored 13 of his 17 points in the third quarter. Jordan Clarkson, the NBA’s 6th man of the year winner, scored 24. Bojan Bogdanovic added 13, Mike Conley had 11.
Ja Morant, who averaged 33.7 points through the first three games, scored 23 and had 12 assists for Memphis. Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. each added 21, De’Anthony Melton had all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and Jonas Valanciunas finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.