PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons scored 26 points, Joel Embiid had 19 rebounds and made some big plays down the stretch, and the Philadelphia 76ers held off the Cavaliers 106-99 on Tuesday night.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 26 points and Cedi Osman added 18 and put the Cavs ahead 97-96 with under three minutes to go as boos rained down in Philadelphia.
But Mike Scott responded with a 3-pointer to put the 76ers back ahead. And after Simmons made a free throw and Jordan Clarkson a layup for the Cavs, Embiid followed his own miss with a thunderous dunk to give the Sixers a 102-99 lead with under a minute left.
Embiid, playing in his second game after missing eight in a row with a sore left knee, had a block on the other end and then made four free throws to seal the win as "MVP! MVP!" chants replaced the boos.
Embiid and JJ Redick finished with 17 points apiece. Simmons added 10 rebounds and eight assists.
One night removed from a surprising 25-point win over the second-place Toronto Raptors, the Cavs, owner of the third-worst record in the NBA, put a big scare into the third-place team in the East.
After shooting just 22 percent from the field in the first quarter to fall behind 24-12, the Cavs took a 38-37 lead midway through the second quarter on two 3-pointers by Osman. Playing against one of the league's worst defenses, the Sixers had 14 turnovers in the first half, holding a slim 53-47 halftime lead.
Both teams gave key players planned days of rest: Jimmy Butler for the 76ers and Kevin Love for the Cavs.
Besides Love, the Cavs were missing, among others, Marquese Chriss (suspension), Tristan Thompson (foot), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) and Larry Nance Jr. (ribs).