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Joel Embiid, 76ers rout Wizards to take 3-0 series lead

The “M-V-P!” chants came not from the home crowd saluting Bradley Beal but rival 76ers fans for Joel Embiid, who put on another valuable performance to push the Wizards to the brink of elimination.

Embiid set a career playoff high with 36 points and Philadelphia routed Washington 132-103 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series.

Embiid scored 25 points in the first half, and finished 14 of 18 from the floor in 28 minutes before resting the entire fourth quarter. The top-seeded 76ers will go for the sweep in Game 4 on Monday.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dunks past Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (8), center Daniel Gafford (21) and forward Davis Bertans (42) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

His signature moment of this victory came seconds after he missed a monster dunk, going back down the floor and connecting on his next attempt while drawing a foul. Embiid then cupped his hands to his ears to encourage the crowd of over 10,000, which was the largest to attend an indoor sporting event in the nation's capital in 14 months.

The reaction was mixed then and throughout as the 76ers kept the Wizards at arm's length before pulling away. Beyond seven minutes in, it was never closer than four points, and Philadelphia led by as many as 31 on the way to the franchise's first 3-0 series lead since 1985.

The 76ers took advantage of the Wizards' biggest stars nursing injuries, though they still produced. Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the triple-double after being a game-time decision with a sprained right ankle, and Beal had 25 as he continues to get back to full health from a strained left hamstring.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts toward referee Michael Smith (38) after he was fouled by Washington Wizards center Alex Len during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Ben Simmons scored 14 and had nine assists, but Philadelphia was far from a two-man show. Tobias Harris had 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and Danny Green made five 3-pointers to finish with 15.

The 76ers shot 58.6% from the field, including 51.5% from 3-point range.

LIMPING WESTBROOK

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) gestures after he made a basket during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

The Wizards planned to get Westbrook treatment in the locker room each time he checked out of the game. Problem was, they couldn't afford to play without him, even as the ankle was bothering him.

Westbrook played almost 21 minutes in the first half and over 34 total before heading to the locker room late in the blowout. It was no surprise he played through pain given Washington's hole in the series, and Philadelphia wasn't expecting Westbrook to sit out.

“We’ll do our thing, coach Doc Rivers said. ”That should not change how we play."

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots against Washington Wizards center Alex Len (27) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

GAMBLING HISTORY

The game was the first playoff contest to be played at a major sports arena in the U.S. with an active sportsbook. The William Hill venue, which was accessible for fans from the 200 level, opened Wednesday.

TIP INS

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, left, goes to the basket against Washington Wizards center Alex Len, right, during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

76ers: All five starters scored in double figures. ... Joined the 2020 Utah Jazz, 2019 Golden State Warriors, 1987 Los Angeles Lakers and 1986 Boston Celtics in scoring 120-plus points in each of their first three postseason games. The Lakers and Celtics went on to win the NBA title. ... Set a franchise record for points through three quarters with 109. ... Green passed Paul Pierce to move into 12th on the playoff career 3-pointers list.

Wizards: Westbrook tied Jason Kidd for third in NBA history with his 11th career postseason triple-double. ... Davis Bertans started in place of Raul Neto with coach Scott Brooks looking for more size. ... Georgetown coach and former New York Knicks star Patrick Ewing was in attendance and got a nice ovation from the crowd when shown on video screens.

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

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) points as he dribbles during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) goes to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton (18) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. Milton was called for a foul on the play. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) reacts after dunking next to Philadelphia 76ers center Dwight Howard (39) and guard George Hill, left, during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) reacts after he scored and was fouled by Philadelphia 76ers guard George Hill (not shown) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards guard Ish Smith, left, goes to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle, right, during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal, center, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers' Dwight Howard, left, and Matisse Thybulle during the second half of Game 2 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP PhotoMatt Slocum)

Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (8) drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry, left, and forward Danny Green (14) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) shoots against Philadelphia 76ers forward Danny Green (14) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) dunks over Philadelphia 76ers center Dwight Howard (39) and guard George Hill (33) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) goes to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard George Hill (33) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. Hill was called for a foul the play. 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Washington Wizards center Robin Lopez, top center, shoots against Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, left, goes to the basket past Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford, right, during the second half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP PhotoNick Wass)