TORONTO - Joel Embiid scored 36 points and added 11 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 114-109 victory over the undermanned Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Chris Boucher had 28 points - including five three-pointers - plus 19 rebounds while Pascal Siakam had 28 points in his first game in two weeks.
Gary Trent Jr., finished with 19 points and Yuta Watanabe added 10 for Toronto (14-17).
The Raptors played with a patchwork lineup that included four hardship signees. One of them was D.J. Wilson, who only cleared COVID-19 protocols in time to join the team at halftime.
Toronto trailed for most of the night but never by double digits until the fourth quarter. Trailing 85-81 to start the fourth, the Raptors' shooting went cold, and Georges Niang's three-pointer capped a 10-2 run that had the Sixers up by 11.
Boucher knocked down a couple of three-pointers, his second pulling the Raptors within three points with 3:42 to play.
Trent followed up a short jumper with a three-pointer to put Toronto up 107-106 with 1:41 left to the delight of the 6,960 fans at Scotiabank Arena.
Embiid's basket put the Sixers up by one with 51 seconds left, and Tobias Harris hit four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory for Philadelphia (18-16).
COVID-19 has pummelled the NBA in the past couple of weeks as cases climb amid the new Omicron variant, and the Raptors have been among the hardest hit.
The Raptors were throttled 144-99 in Cleveland on Sunday in a matchup in which they had just eight players, including four hardship signees. Watanabe said they didn't even meet the newcomers until the bus ride to the arena.
Ten Raptors remain in COVID-19 protocol including Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes.
“I don't think anybody was very sick,” Nick Nurse said on the players in protocol.
Siakam, Trent and Malachi Flynn cleared protocol to play Tuesday. Precious Achiuwa and Khem Birch also cleared protocol but were held out for return to competition conditioning, while Dalano Banton was sidelined with a knee bruise.
He planned to carefully monitor the minutes of players recently released from protocol, since there'd been no chance to maintain game fitness while in isolation.
“We have tried to do daily fitness things with them. They've had to do that on their own. They've done some Zoom workouts, things like that,” Nurse said before the game. “They've been on the court a couple times, as well. But that's probably a far cry from where they left a while back.”
The Ontario government recently cut the allowable crowd to 50 per cent capacity for large events. Concessions were closed and fans could be ejected for not wearing their masks.
The Raptors have had three games postponed: home games against Chicago and Orlando and a road game in Chicago.
Siakam led the way with 14 points in a first quarter that saw the Raptors lead for much of the first five minutes before trailing 27-24 to end the frame.
A long jumper by Seth Curry had the Sixers up by eight points late in the second quarter. He hit a three with 3.2 seconds left to send the 76ers into the halftime break with a 55-48 lead.
Svi Mykhailiuk's three-pointer with 1:39 left in the third quarter capped a 13-2 Raptors run that put them up by two.
The game kicked off a four-game homestand. The Raptors will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2021.