The Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons looks for a way around Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon.
The Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons looks for a way around Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon. John Raoux

Simmons gets closer to finals action

JOEL Embiid scored 17 points and gathered nine rebounds in just 20 minutes as Ben Simmons' surging Philadelphia 76ers moved closer to an NBA play-off berth with a 118-98 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Ersan Ilyasova scored 18 points, leading six Philadelphia players in double figures as the 76ers (41-30) won their fifth straight.

The 76ers played the fourth quarter without any starters for the second straight night, leaving Australian rookie Simmons with six points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Rodney Purvis came off the bench to score 19 points for the Magic, who have lost eight of nine.

Aaron Gordon, the only Orlando starter to score in double figures, had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Simmons has nine triple-doubles. Only one player in NBA history has produced as many as 10 triple-doubles in his rookie season - Oscar Robertson, who had 26 triple-doubles in 1960-61.

In other NBA games, Australian Joe Ingles chipped in with 18 points as the Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks 119-112.

Rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting - including a pair of baskets to hold off a late rally - while Ricky Rubio totalled 22 points and five steals and Derrick Favors 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

In North Carolina, the Charlotte Hornets posted the largest margin of victory in franchise history in a 140-79 rout of the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.

Kemba Walker scored 35 of his 46 points in the first half. It was his 55th career game with at least 30 points, breaking a tie for Glen Rice for most in franchise history.

In Houston, the Houston Rockets defeated the Detroit Pistons 100-96, with James Harden scoring 10 of his 21 points in overtime.

The Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games despite missing 39 of 51 three-pointers, 10 of 28 free throws and shooting 35.4 per cent overall.

Justin Jackson scored 11 of his season-high 20 points in the third quarter and the Sacramento Kings beat the Atlanta Hawks 105-90.

A rescheduled game this week that forced the Pelicans to play five times in six nights provided Anthony Davis and New Orleans with what would have been a reasonable excuse for fading against a young Lakers squad that was eager to push the pace after two nights off.

Instead, a determined Davis and seemingly rejuvenated Rajon Rondo spearheaded a riveting rally that has lifted them into fourth place in the Western Conference.

Davis capped off a 33-point performance with two clutch free throws and a game-sealing steal in the final seconds,as the Pelicans erased an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Los Angeles, 128-125.

- AP



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