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The Weekly Run It Back: Joel Embiid returns, Sixers sweep two back-to-backs

It was four games, four wins for the Philadelphia 76ers this week. The Sixers swept two back-to-backs with the help of Joel Embiid returning from 10 days sidelined with knee swelling.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Run It Back! In this weekly series, we will summarize the week overall and recap each Sixers’ game from the previous week (Sunday to Saturday).

This was a tiresome week for the Sixers with two back-to-backs on the schedule. Luckily for them, they got a huge 7-foot boost in the form of Joel Embiid returning after missing 10 days of action with left knee swelling. And boy, did he look good. In his return in the Sixers’ MLK Day matinee to kick off the week, Embiid looked as in rhythm as ever, putting up 41 points to lead Philadelphia over the visiting Houston Rockets. Tuesday night held this week’s marquee matchup, with Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets taking a trip to South Philadelphia. The back-and-forth affair was everything fans were looking for in a battle of the bigs, and Embiid put up yet another 41-point performance to lift the Sixers over the Nuggets.

One back-to-back down. One to go.

The Sixers hit the road on Friday to take on the Orlando Magic on their turf. This was frankly Embiid and Tyrese Maxey vs. the Magic for a big portion of the contest. The duo combined for 68 points in the Sixers comfortable victory over the Magic. Less than 24 hours later, they were back on the court, this time in Charlotte to take on the Hornets. This was an ugly one. Both teams were on the end of back-to-backs and it absolutely looked like it from the energy level. Nevertheless, some fourth quarter clutch minutes from Danuel House Jr. and Tobias Harris allowed the Sixers to escape Charlotte with a narrow victory to close out a perfect week.

The squad will finally get some rest Sunday before hosting Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. They will then hit the road again to take on the Indiana Pacers on Thursday before a rematch with the Nuggets (this time in Denver) on Saturday.

Miss any of the action this week? No worries, we got you covered.

Sixers vs. Houston Rockets, Monday, Jan. 15

Result: W, 124-115

Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid

Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Joel Embiid returns with a 41-point bang

The NBA’s reigning MVP Joel Embiid returned to action in a big way on Monday in the Philadelphia 76ers 124-115 victory over the Houston Rockets.

Embiid returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with left knee inflammation. Spoiler alert: he didn’t look like a guy that hasn’t played a game in 10 days. He put up 41 points and 10 rebounds in this one to lead the way for the Sixers.

A 17-2 run to end the first period for Philadelphia led the Sixers to a 33-19 lead after one. A flurry of triples and 13 points from Embiid in the second extended the Sixers’ advantage to 19 points at the half with the Rockets visibly frustrated throughout. Embiid had already notched a dominant performance by the break with 26 points in 19 minutes on the floor.

The Rockets weren’t just giving up, however. They started to chip away at the Sixers’ lead in the third as Embiid hit the bench with five fouls, but Patrick Beverley and Paul Reed stepped up to the plate to help stabilize the Sixers. Headed into the final 12 minutes, Philadelphia held a 21-point lead. Eleven points from Tyrese Maxey in the final frame helped the Sixers secure the 124-115 victory on Monday afternoon.

Sixers vs. Denver Nuggets, Tuesday, Jan. 16

Result: W, 126-121

Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid

Denver Nuggets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Sixers-Nuggets lives up to the hype as Philadelphia secures a big win

The game between the two previous NBA MVPs and two of the top teams in the league this season fully lived up to the hype.

It was a true back-and-forth affair for quite some time, with each side’s offense throwing one haymaker after another. Things got a bit dicey for the Sixers when Denver closed the third quarter on a 15-2 run to lead by five heading into the final frame. However, the Sixers countered with an 18-2 run of their own midway through the fourth quarter to regain control and didn’t look back for the 126-121 win.

Sixers at Orlando Magic, Friday, Jan. 19

Result: W, 124-109

Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers v Orlando Magic Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Embiid, Maxey dominate to take down Magic

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey combined for 68 points to lead the Sixers to a 124-109 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

While Embiid and Tobias Harris got off to hot starts for the Sixers, the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the squad. The Magic were able to snag a narrow lead in the second quarter while Embiid was on the bench before the big man came back in and decided to put the Sixers on his back. Twenty-eight first-half points from Embiid combined with Maxey heating up to finish the second quarter led to a 13-2 Sixers run and ultimately an eight-point advantage for Philadelphia at the break.

The Magic came out of the break with a bit of punch led by Paolo Banchero, but with Embiid and Maxey both firing on all cylinders, the Sixers built a double-digit lead by the end of the third. Leading by 13 to start the final frame, Maxey put up seven quick points to help the Sixers extend their lead to over 20 and allow the stars to get some rest in the fourth on the way to a 124-109 Philadelphia victory.

Sixers at Charlotte Hornets, Saturday, Jan. 20

Result: W, 98-89

Bell Ringer: Danuel House Jr. (leading voting at time of writing)

Philadelphia 76ers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

House Jr., Harris step up late to snag 97-89 win over Hornets

Good god that was ugly. It’s a win, but it was ugly.

Late heroics lifted a tired Philadelphia 76ers squad over the Charlotte Hornets 97-89 on Saturday night.

Fatigue definitely reared its head in this one. Jumpers left short, energy low, and not an ounce of hustle. Even the team’s resident ball of energy Tyrese Maxey looked tired. Back-to-backs are always tough, but this was just a mess. The Hornets were without Lamelo Ball and their two seven-foot centers in Mark Williams and Nick Richards. This should have been a cakewalk for the Sixers. It wasn’t quite that.

But I digress.

Joel Embiid got off to a hot start with 15 points in the first. Unfortunately, no one else from the Sixers did much in the first 12 minutes, and the first frame ended with Philadelphia and Charlotte square at 24-24. The low scoring from both teams continued, with neither team breaking the 50-point mark by halftime. Maxey carried the weight for the Sixers while Embiid caught some rest on the bench in the early second, and put up 10 second-period points to help the Sixers take a narrow 46-45 lead at the break. The Sixers failed to score a point in the last 4:58 of the half, but held the lead nonetheless.

The halftime break didn’t seem to really help the energy level of either team. The Sixers especially struggled in the third with a number of wide-open threes left short or just wildly off target. Shooting just 36% from the floor in the frame, Philadelphia trailed the Hornets by four headed into the fourth period.

Then, Danuel House Jr. decided the game wasn’t over. He put up five crucial points before forcing turnover after turnover out of the Hornets, allowing the Sixers to retake the lead and build their most comfortable advantage of the entire contest. Thanks to House’s efforts and some important buckets from Tobias Harris, the Sixers were able to escape Charlotte with a 97-89 victory.

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