Joel Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Philadelphia led from start to finish in a 115-102 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Dario Saric added 20 points and J.J. Redick had 18 for the 76ers, who snapped Washington’s five-game winning streak while playing in front of a raucous crowd still in a tizzy over the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
“We knew it was going to be amazing, so we had to come out and play up to the competition,” Embiid said.
Bradley Beal scored 30 points for the Wizards, who lost their first game since fellow All-Star John Wall had arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee.
“We had a nice run,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said of the winning streak. “We have to try to regroup and come back on Thursday (against Boston).”
It looked like half the crowd was clad in Eagles green, and fans broke out into several loud chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S!” as the party continued 48 hours after Philadelphia won its first Lombardi Trophy.
Fans gave a standing ovation to Eagles offensive linemen Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski and Jason Peters when they rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell before tipoff.
The 76ers seemed to feed off the emotion.
Philadelphia took control early, scoring 22 of the first 29 points, and led by as many as 22 in the opening half before settling for a 65-55 halftime lead.
The 76ers pushed the advantage to 19 points on Embiid’s 3-pointer that made it 78-59 with just under nine minutes left in the third. Washington again pulled within 10 points, 94-84, at the end of the period.
But Embiid’s outside shooting gave Philadelphia breathing room again when his 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 100-84 with 10:16 left.
The Wizards managed to get within single digits in the final five minutes, but they never seriously threatened.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown loved the crowd’s enthusiasm and hopes it’s a sign of things to come for his team.
“It’s fantastic, it’s just fantastic,” Brown said. “It’s always, for us, a reminder of what we hope to experience. We want to start with earning a berth to the playoffs. That’s our goal.”
“And we see what this city does and how this city responds to that type of environment. They respect and applaud effort. They’ve been with us through many, many down times. And we look forward to try and reward them and play in front of them in a playoff atmosphere.”
The 76ers began play tied with Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia rookie Markelle Fultz told TNT’s Caron Butler during an in-game interview that he expects to be a better player upon his return from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him all season.
Fultz’s return has been clouded in mystery and the first-round pick’s well-documented struggles reclaiming his jump shot have caused concern within and outside the organization.
Brown repeatedly has said that there is no timetable for Fultz’s return and, as an injured player, the club doesn’t make him available to local reporters for interviews.
But Fultz spoke with optimism to Butler.
“It’s been a slow process,” he said. “It’s been tough, but at the end of the day I know it’s going to make me better.”
Wizards: Washington had its streak of getting at least 25 assists snapped at six games. … Wall is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks. … Washington shot 26 percent (7-for-27) from 3-point range.
76ers: Embiid and Justin Anderson attended Sunday’s Super Bowl, alternately watching the game from a suite and the stands. … In addition to the offensive linemen, Eagles cheerleaders and mascot Swoop helped rile up the crowd. … Philadelphia will play its next four games at home and doesn’t hit the road until Feb. 22 at Chicago.
Wizards: Host Boston on Thursday night.
76ers: Host New Orleans on Friday night.