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Joel Embiid powers Sixers over Bucks, 110-102, on night Tyrese Maxey leaves with injury

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey left Friday's game late in the second quarter with a left foot injury, but Embiid carried the team in the second half.

Sixers center Joel Embiid blocks Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo's first-quarter shot attempt on Friday.
Sixers center Joel Embiid blocks Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo's first-quarter shot attempt on Friday.Read moreYong Kim / Staff Photographer

It’s hard to call Friday night’s tilt against the Milwaukee Bucks a barometer game for the 76ers.

The Bucks came into the matchup a half-game behind the Boston Celtics atop the Eastern Conference standings. They also boasted one of the league’s top-five players in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

» READ MORE: The Sixers need to find balance — with and without James Harden

But neither team was at full strength, and the Sixers lost Tyrese Maxey late in the second quarter to a left foot injury. So it’s hard to compare squads under those circumstances.

Yet, the Sixers can cherish a thrilling 110-102 victory at the Wells Fargo Center before things got testy post game between Antetokounmpo and Sixers reserve center Montrezl Harrell. A frustrated Antetokounmpo even shoved a ladder out of the way so he could continue shooting foul shots.

But Joel Embiid was the hero of the game, finishing with game-highs of 32 points and eight assists to go with 11 rebounds and three blocks. He scored at least 32 points for the third consecutive game. Embiid had a career-high 59 points on Sunday against the Utah Jazz, one night after posting 42 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Maxey had 24 points, five assists, and four rebounds before suffering his injury late in the first half. X-rays were negative. The Sixers’ standout guard left the arena in a walking boot and will have an MRI on Saturday.

Asked if he thinks Maxey will play Saturday against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, Sixers coach Doc Rivers said, “I have no idea. He’s in a boot. So I’ll let you figure that one out.”

Georges Niang scored 17 points and made four of eight three-pointers off the bench for the Sixers, and Shake Milton added 15 points and six assists.

Antetokounmpo finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. However, he made just four of 15 foul shots.

Back on track despite being undermanned

Meanwhile, the Sixers (8-7) enjoyed their second three-game winning streak and have a winning record for the first time this season. They broke the game open with a 14-2 run to give them an 108-99 lead with 1 minute, 47 seconds remaining.

“That’s how it has to be,” power forward P.J. Tucker said of getting a victory while undermanned. “Games you have to win to be able to be in position at the end of the season really when it counts. ... We have to keep fighting. We have guys down. We have to step up.”

But the Sixers were a shell of the team with which they opened the season.

They were without starters James Harden and Tobias Harris because of injuries. Harden missed his sixth game with a right foot tendon strain. Harris was out with left hip soreness.

» READ MORE: Furkan Korkmaz suffers left knee injury, misses opportunity to make mark on Sixers rotation

Furkan Korkmaz missed his second game with left knee swelling. Jaden Springer also was sidelined with a right quad strain. And Matisse Thybulle tried to gut it out on a sprained left ankle, playing just four minutes in a reserve role. The shooting guard had started the previous two games.

The Bucks were without Pat Connaughton (right calf strain), Joe Ingles (left knee ACL surgery), Wesley Matthews (right hamstring strain), and Khris Middleton (left wrist ligament surgery). Jrue Holiday (right ankle sprain), who didn’t play in the first quarter, returned after missing the past four games, and Grayson Allen (right ankle sprain) was back after sitting out the last game.

Maxey’s injury

Maxey injured his left foot by stepping on the foot of Milwaukee’s Jevon Carter while driving to the basket and getting fouled 1:36 before intermission. The third-year veteran went to the locker room after splitting a pair of foul shots and didn’t return.

Until that point, Maxey had accounted for 75.9% of the Sixers points in the second quarter. He had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting to go with three assists. Eight points were created from his assists. Maxey did not speak to the media following the game.

“It [stinks],” Embiid said of Maxey’s injury. “What more is there to say? That’s three guys [in the starting lineup] between him James and Tobias. Those are big pieces of our team. So it does [stink]. So I’m just going to pray and hope nothing is wrong with more imaging tomorrow.”

Rivers said Maxey was reassuring when they spoke at halftime.

“He says what he always says, ‘Coach, I’m good,’ ” Rivers said. “But I don’t know if he’ll be good right away, would be my guess.”

Up next

The Sixers host Minnesota at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Timberwolves are 7-8 and head into the matchup with a two-game winning streak.