NBA Wrap: Simmons leads 76ers closer to playoffs

Ben Simmons had a triple-double, Joel Embiid dazzled while getting the better of Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Philadelphia 76ers inched closer to their first playoff berth in six years with a 120-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.

Simmons had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists for the 10th triple-double of his rookie season. Embiid scored 19 points, and had a left-handed block of Towns, a 3-pointer and a windmill dunk in the Sixers’ 20-4 run to start the third quarter.

Dario Saric added 18 points as the Sixers (42-30) won their sixth straight game, ensured a winning season and moved within one win or Detroit loss from their first postseason appearance since 2012.

Andrew Wiggins scored 16 points, and Towns had 15 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 3 of 15 from the field. Minnesota had won two in a row.

James Harden scored 27 points in three quarters as Houston routed New Orleans Pelicans 114-91 for its eighth straight victory.

The NBA-leading Rockets improved to 59-14 to overtake the 1993-94 championship team for the most wins in franchise history.

Houston never trailed and already had a huge lead to start the fourth before scoring seven straight points early in the period to make it 92-63 with 10 minutes remaining. Clint Capela had four points and a steal to lead Houston in that stretch. Capela finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and tied a career high with six blocks.

Anthony Davis, who also sat out the fourth quarter with the game out of reach, led New Orleans with 25 points and had eight rebounds and four blocks.

Anthony Tolliver scored 25 points, and Detroit made 13 3-pointers in the first half to rout Chicago 117-95.

The Pistons have won three of four, with the only loss in that span in overtime at Houston, but Detroit still trails Milwaukee by 5 1/2 games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Andre Drummond had 15 points and 20 rebounds for Detroit. It was his 16th game this season with at least 20 rebounds and the 50th of his career.

Denzel Valentine led the Bulls with 18 points. They have lost five straight.

Kyle Kuzma scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and had 10 rebounds, as Los Angeles overcame a slow start to beat Memphis 100-93.

Julius Randle added 20 points and 11 rebounds to help the Lakers end a four-game losing streak. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 18 points, and Lonzo Ball had 12 points and 10 assists.

Andrew Harrison led the Grizzlies with 20 points and nine assists.

Aaron Gordon had 29 points and 11 rebounds in Orlando’s 105-99 victory over Phoenix.

Nikola Vucevic added 24 points and nine rebounds, and D.J. Augustin nearly had his first triple-double of the season with 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. The Magic had lost three in a row.

Phoenix has lost 11 straight and 26 of 28. Josh Jackson led the Suns with 18 points, Alex Len had 15, and Tyler Ulis and former Magic guard Elfrid Payton added 14 apiece.

Dwight Howard had 23 rebounds and 18 points to cap an eventful four days as Charlotte held off Dallas 102-98 for their third straight victory.

Howard had a career-high 30 rebounds and scored 32 points against Brooklyn on Wednesday night, then served a one-game suspension for his 16th technical foul of the season as Charlotte beat Memphis 140-79 on Thursday night.

That’s 50 points and 53 rebounds in Howard’s last two games.

The Mavericks had a chance to win after rebounding a miss by Charlotte’s Jeremy Lamb, but Walker stole the ball from Dennis Smith Jr. and Dallas had to foul Marvin Williams with five seconds left. He made both free throws.

Walker scored 24 points, and Smith led the Mavericks with 21.

Lamb had 14 points, and Malik Monk scored 11 for the Hornets.

Dallas’ Harrison Barnes scored 18 points, Ferrell finished with 16, Doug McDermott had 14 and J.J. Barea added 10. Nerlens Noel had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

All the scores from Saturday’s NBA action:

Philadelphia 76ers 120-108 Minnesota Timberwolves
Detroit Pistons 117-95 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 105-99 Phoenix Suns
Houston Rockets 114-91 New Orleans Pelicans
Memphis Grizzlies 93-100 Los Angeles Lakers
Dallas Mavericks 98-102 Charlotte Hornets

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