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Sixers escape Thunder on Embiid’s return

LOS ANGELES – Joel Embiid made a dazzling return from a two-month injury layoff to inspire the Philadelphia 76ers to an upset 109-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday (Wednesday Manila time).

The NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player was a surprise late inclusion in the Sixers' starting lineup at the Wells Fargo Center, returning to the hardwood after suffering a knee injury in a defeat to Golden State on January 30.

In Embiid's absence the Sixers' season has been in freefall, plunging into the play-in positions in the Eastern Conference rather than the automatic postseason spots.

The 30-year-old's return Tuesday suggested the Sixers may yet be capable of upsetting the form book heading into the playoffs after battling past the Western Conference-leading Thunder.

Embiid, who finished with 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds after logging nearly 30 minutes of game time, was visibly exhausted after dragging the Sixers over the line.

"Not good," Embiid replied when asked how he felt following the victory. "But I'm glad we got through it and we got the win."

Embiid said his rehabilitation from a torn left meniscus had been one of the most challenging injury layoffs of his career.

"Usually when I get hurt I just move on to the next one. This one took a toll mentally," said Embiid, who wore a large brace on his heavily strapped left knee.

"I just wanted to come back. I'm only going to get better but this one has been the hardest by far, especially mentally," he added.

Oklahoma City led for most of the game and looked to be on course for victory after opening up a 13-point lead early in the second half.

However a fourth-quarter rally from the Sixers -- outscoring their short-handed opponents 36-25 -- swung the game decisively back in favor of the home team.

Two Embiid free throws put Philadelphia ahead 106-105 with 38 seconds remaining, and Embiid then made a crucial steal before drawing a foul which sent him back to the free throw line to put the Sixers up 108-105.

Tobias Harris then made a late free throw to seal the win.

The Milwaukee Bucks were stunned 117-113 on the road by the lowly Washington Wizards.

Corey Kispert was the hero for