Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, left, tries to pass Jaylin Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid put Philadelphia ahead with four free throws in the final 40 seconds and finished with 24 points in his first game in nine weeks following knee surgery, leading the 76ers to a 109-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Tuesday night.

Embiid added seven assists and six rebounds in nearly 30 minutes — but more importantly, he brought confidence that the 76ers can salvage their season and make a postseason run with last season's MVP in the lineup.

Embiid was congratulated by Hall of Famer Allen Iverson after the game.

READ: 76ers optimistic Joel Embiid can return in regular season

Chet Holmgren scored 22 points to lead the Thunder, who are in a tight race with Minnesota and Denver for first place in the Western Conference.

The 76ers trailed by 11 points with 7:27 left before going on a torrid run. Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3 that started the comeback, and Embiid finished with a series of free throws. Embiid hit two for a 106-105 lead and added two more to make it 108-105. He made all 12 of his foul shots on the night.

Embiid sat exhausted at the scorer's table as the final seconds ticked by before he closed in on Iverson.

Oubre scored 25 points and Tobias Harris had 18.

Embiid was injured on Jan. 30 at Golden State. He had surgery on the meniscus in his left knee a week later, and the Sixers fell in the East standings without him. They are currently in eighth, 1 and a half games behind Miami.

With a healthy Embiid, the 76ers have at least a better chance of winning a playoff series or two.

“He changes them significantly,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “They play very differently stylistically when he is where they have been lately in the last 30 games he has been out. When he plays, it certainly changes their approach.”

READ: Doctors 'happy with progress' on Joel Embiid

The Thunder were unable to hold on in game four, with All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out for the third time in four games with a hip injury. Jalen Williams (ankle) also sat out for the Thunder. All-Star guard Tyrese Maxey (hip) was inactive for the 76ers.

Sixers coach Nick Nurse was impressed with the state of the Thunder, in large part because of Gilgeous-Alexander's play.


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“I think they have a lot of things,” said the nurse. “They have an incredible star who is as good as anyone in the league. They have other emerging stars who are very good players. They play a system that everyone is in tune with.”

NEXT APPOINTMENT

Thunder: At Boston on Wednesday.

76ers: At Miami on Thursday.



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