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Simmons hits 3, scores 34 points to lead 76ers past Cavs

Ben Simmons hit his second career 3-pointer and scored a career-high 34 points, and the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t need Joel Embiid’s help to rout the Cleveland Cavaliers 141-94 Saturday night.

Simmons made 12 of 14 field goals, including his only 3-point attempt, and hit 9 of 12 free throws to help Philadelphia improve to 11-0 at home.

Embiid sat out with a left hip contusion.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Collin Sexton (2) goes up for a shot between Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) and Al Horford (42) as Tristan Thompson (13) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Darius Garland had 17 points for the Cavaliers, who have lost six in a row and 12 of 13.

Philadelphia has been projected to be an NBA title contender, but the 76ers haven’t been able to consistently field its starting five of Simmons, Embiid, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. They have only started nine games together due to injuries and Embiid’s two-game suspension for fighting Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.

The 76ers needed little more than Simmons in a dominant first half that ended with them ahead 77-36.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love reacts after scoring a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Simmons attacked the basket often and showed off a rarely seen mid-range game when he drained an 11-foot jumper with 6:04 left in the second quarter. That had 76ers fans cheering, but it was just an appetizer for Simmons.

With 3:41 left in the half, Simmons took a cross-court pass from Trey Burke and knocked down a 3 from the left wing, his second this season after going 0 for 17 during his first two seasons. That send the sold-out crowd into a frenzy, and the roars continued when Simmons finished an alley-oop dunk from Burke on Philadelphia’s ensuing possession.

Simmons received a standing ovation at the next stoppage.

Philadelphia 76ers' Raul Neto, left, goes up for a shot past Cleveland Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Simmons finished the tremendous four-possession sequence with assists on Philadelphia’s next two trips, first to Al Horford for a 3-pointer and then to James Ennis III for a jumper.

Finally, Simmons ended the first half scoring with a 9-foot jumper for a 41-point lead entering the break.

TIP-INS

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons goes up for a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Cavaliers: Cleveland set a season low for points in a half, worse than the 40 the Cavaliers scored against Orlando on Dec. 6. ... Cleveland’s previous largest margin of defeat this season was 42 points, 143-101 at Dallas on Nov. 22.

76ers: G Josh Richardson (right hamstring tightness) missed his fifth straight contest. He’ll also sit out Sunday’s game against Toronto and then be re-evaluated. ... Philadelphia improved to 3-2 without Embiid. ... Simmons hits his first 3-pointer Nov. 20 against the Knicks. His previous career best in points was 32, set Feb. 22, 2018 at Chicago. ... Matisse Thybulle injured his right ankle in the first half and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love, left, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Cavaliers: At Boston Monday night.

76ers: Host Toronto Sunday night.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers' Collin Sexton, right, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers' Al Horford during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Fans celebrate after Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons made a three-point basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)