Embiid leads 76ers to big win over Bucks

Los Angeles (AFP) –


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.

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 eight-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.

The game was one of five 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.

The holiday extravaganza moved north of the border for the first time, as the Boston Celtics spoiled the reigning champion Toronto Raptors' party with a 118-102 victory.

"To get a win here on Christmas is like the perfect present," said Jaylen Brown, who scored 30 points for the Celtics.

Brown connected on 10 of 13 shots from the field including five of seven three-pointers as the Celtics snapped an eight-game losing streak in Toronto.

The Raptors had blasted out of the gate, racing to a 10-0 lead before the Celtics closed out the first quarter on a 28-9 scoring run for a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Boston improved to 21-7, second in the Eastern Conference, while the Raptors fell to 21-10.

The Celtics' celebrations included the return of Gordon Hayward, who scored 14 points after missing three games with a sore left foot.

Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with 27 points and Chris Boucher added a career-high 24 off the bench.

Kyle Lowry scored 14 points and Serge Ibaka had 12 for the Raptors, who made just eight of 23 attempts from three-point range.