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Joel Embiid asked his teammates to keep winning and remain on top of the Eastern Conference before the Sixers went on the road without him.
 

The big man got what he wanted.

Shake Milton scored 27 points, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-94 on Thursday night, capping a six-game road trip without their injured MVP nominee center.

The Sixers went 4-2 on their trip while waiting for Embiid to return from a knee injury. They were beaten twice by the Cavs earlier this season. They also kept up with Brooklyn in the race for the No. 1 seed in the East.

“We did a good job of holding the fort down without the big fella,” said forward Tobias Harris.

Seth Curry scored 19 points on five 3-pointers, and Milton’s scoring off the bench helped counter Ben Simmons’ weak shooting night, which saw him go 2 of 11 from the field but catch 13 rebounds. Howard connected on 6 of 7 shots, tying his season high.

The Sixers’ bench outscored Cleveland’s 65-26, capping off a journey that could have gone either way without Embiid.

Seth Curry scored 19 points on five 3-pointers, and Milton’s scoring off the bench helped counter Ben Simmons’ weak shooting night, which saw him go 2 of 11 from the field but catch 13 rebounds. Howard connected on 6 of 7 shots, tying his season high.

The Sixers’ bench outscored Cleveland’s 65-26, capping off a journey that could have gone either way without Embiid.

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In the third quarter, Philadelphia’s defense clamped down on Cleveland, limiting them to 17 points in the third quarter and 38 in the second half. Milton’s five-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc helped the Sixers break away early in the fourth quarter.

The Cavaliers, who welcomed back forward Kevin Love, were led by Collin Sexton, who scored 24 points. Due to a calf strain, the five-time All-Star only appeared in his fifth game this season, scoring 13 points in 20 minutes, including only five after halftime.

After missing the previous two seasons due to a concussion and an appendectomy, Matthew Dellavedova made his season debut for Cleveland. In 16 minutes, the crowd favorite did not score, but he did have five assists.

Embiid has missed 10 games in a row due to a bone bruise in his left knee, which he suffered while dunking on March 12.

He’s close to returning — a game against Minnesota on Saturday seems likely — and the Sixers are expected to have a medical update on their promising big man, who was one of the MVP frontrunners before he was injured, on Friday.

Despite losing Embiid, the Sixers were able to work out certain things without him, as the team’s substitutes were forced to take on more responsibilities.

“When we add Joel back, it will be lights out,” Howard said.

Love didn’t waste any time in making an impression.

Love made his first three attempts, two of which were 3-pointers, and scored 10 points in the first quarter after receiving a standing ovation. He was limited in minutes, but coach J.B. Bickerstaff brought him back into the game in the second quarter when it seemed the 32-year-old was still gasping for air.

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The injury, according to Love, was the most painful of his career.

“The joy of being out there and finally feeling like myself again made me happy,” he said.

Love and Dellavedova offered much-needed depth for the Cavs, who were without forward Larry Nance Jr. (illness), center Jarrett Allen (concussion), and forward Dylan Windler (knee).  –ESPN

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