Joel Embiid Leads 76ers Past Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 12:  Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves  on December 12, 2017 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to top the Minnesota Timberwolves, 118-112, in overtime at Target Center on Tuesday night. 

While the Sixers turned the ball over a season-high 26 times and fumbled their way through long stretches, a late surge keyed by Joel Embiid's passing prowess and a few timely buckets from Ben Simmons allowed them to withstand Jimmy Butler's clutch shot-making and force the extra session. 

And once they were afforded fresh life, the Sixers didn't throw away their shot. 

Embiid continued to deal as a scorer and passer with the result hanging in the balance, and he received support from Simmons, JJ Redick (26 points) and Dario Saric (14 points) to hold off a Timberwolves team (16-12) that suffered its first loss in almost a week. 

Embiid, who drilled a pair of game-tying free throws with 14 seconds left and followed up with a dagger three in overtime, finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high eight assists while playing a career-high 39 minutes. 

Sixers Stats put that production in perspective: 

Simmons didn't stuff the stat sheet in quite the same way after going scoreless through the first three quarters, but he came alive late and dropped seven points and eight assists to help the Sixers snap a four-game losing streak and move to 14-13 on the season. 

While turnovers were a serious issue, the Sixers—who entered the night ranked second in the NBA with assists on 64.6 percent of their made baskets, according to NBA.com—stayed true to form and handed out 32 helpers on 40 made shots. 

It also helped that their execution improved dramatically in crunch time, according to The Athletic's Derek Bodner: 

Minnesota couldn't say the same. 

While the Timberwolves played a cleaner game for three-and-a-half quarters, an isolation-heavy approach limited them to 19 dimes on 44 made field goals. Plus, Philadelphia outscored them 33-15 from beyond the arc. 

Jimmy Butler was the only Timberwolves player who boasted more than one conversion from distance as he powered his way to a season-high 38 points (15-of-33 shooting, 3-of-9 from three) in an impressive performance that featured a clutch go-ahead triple with 17 seconds remaining before Embiid tied the game at the charity stripe. 

Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and three blocks, but he shot just 6-of-16 from the field and appeared to run out of gas as he played a season-high 48 minutes. 

Andrew Wiggins was similarly inefficient, as he needed 24 shots to reach 20 points. 

Dating back to Nov. 11, Wiggins has played at least 36 minutes in 17 straight games, and he has exceeded the 40-minute threshold five times in that span.

The Timberwolves will have Wednesday off to recover, but they'll have to put those tired legs to the test again Thursday when the Sacramento Kings come to town. 

The Sixers, meanwhile, will be off until Friday as they prepare for a clash with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Wells Fargo Center. 

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