LOS ANGELES, USA – The Philadelphia 76ers celebrated Christmas with a rout of the NBA's top team, thumping Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, 121-109, on Wednesday, December 25 (Thursday, December 26, Philippine time).
Cameroonian big man Joel Embiid scored 31 points as the Sixers ran roughshod over the league's top-rated defense.
Embiid pulled down 11 rebounds and played a key role in neutralizing reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo – who was held to 18 points on an 8-of-23 shooting.
"The whole season I've been humble, but I want to be Defensive Player of the Year, and I feel like tonight showed it," Embiid said.
Tobias Harris added 22 points, Josh Richardson had 18 and Ben Simmons scored 13 for the 76ers, whose 21 three-pointers are the most for a team on Christmas Day.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 31 points, but Milwaukee never looked like turning the tide.
"It was a great win," Embiid said. "It started on the defensive end and we knocked down a couple of shots and that's how we got the lead."
The margin would swell to as many as 29 points as Milwaukee lost for just the fifth time this season.
"I think this team is designed for the playoffs," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. "I believe the road we have traveled so far has been a little bit erratic, at times. But I think the landing spot is exciting."
Antetokounmpo insisted the defeat would only make the Bucks better.
"We had to go through this today," the Greek superstar said. "We had to have our character tested today because the only way you get better is when you face adversity.
"I don't like losing, but at the end of the day I think sometimes when you lose this way you get better as a team."
The game was one of 5 marquee match-ups on the NBA's Christmas Day slate, which also included LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the Los Angeles Lakers against their cross-town rivals the Clippers. – Rappler.com