Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers knew exactly what was coming when Carmelo Anthony got rolling for Portland.
Anthony scored a season-high 24 points off the bench, including 16 in the fourth quarter, and the Trail Blazers beat the Sixers 118-114 on Thursday night.
“Once Carmelo gets it going, he’s still Carmelo. He reminded us of that tonight,” Rivers said.
Damian Lillard had 30 points in Portland’s fourth win in five games.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 35 points and nine rebounds, and Ben Simmons added 23 points and 11 boards. The loss snapped a four-game road winning streak.
The Eastern Conference-leading Sixers had won six of seven, with the only defeat during that span coming a week ago to the Trail Blazers, 121-105. It was just the second loss at home for Philadelphia.
“I thought tonight was just one of those games where we felt like we had to win the game,” Anthony said. “I got hot in the fourth quarter and made some shots, got a great rhythm, gave our team a different spark, some momentum, some energy, and we won the game. We know how important this game was for us, going up against the top team in the East.”
After a back-and-forth game, the 76ers held the edge going into the final period but Anthony hit three consecutive 3-pointers to give the Blazers a 102-97 lead with 8:28 left.
Anthony added a pair of jumpers that made it 108-101. The Sixers came back to narrow the gap to 108-107 on Seth Curry’s pull-up jumper and Simmons’ layup.
Tobias Harris’ free throws knotted the game at 109 before Gary Trent Jr.’s 3-pointer put the Blazers back in front. Lillard added a basket to make it 114-109 with 1:15 left.
Embiid’s pull-up closed the margin, then Curry’s 3-pointer tied it at 114 with 22.1 seconds left. Tripped by Harris, Anthony made a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Robert Covington got a deflection and steal on the inbounds play and Lillard made free throws to close it out.
“He carried us in the fourth quarter,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said about Anthony. “He really got on a roll and he was vintage Melo. Hitting 3s, hitting some off-balance shots, just in a real rhythm and he provided points when we needed them.”
Embiid came in averaging 29.1 points per game, good for fourth in the NBA. He averaged 34.1 points and 10.1 rebounds over the last nine heading into Thursday’s game.
Lillard was third in the league, averaging 29.4 points a game. He now has 14 games with 30 or more points this season.
The Blazers jumped out to a 20-13 lead, hitting six 3-pointers. But the Sixers tied the game at 28 on Simmons’ short jumper and pulled in front on Embiid’s dunk.
Portland was ahead 37-36 at the end of the opening period. Lillard led the way for the Blazers with 19 points, a season high for a quarter this season.
Anfernee Simons’ floater gave the Blazers a 58-50 advantage with just under five minute left before halftime.
Blazers center Enes Kanter had to leave the game late in the half after he got knocked in the head by a teammate and was bleeding heavily. He returned in the second half after getting stitches.
Embiid’s bank shot put Philadelphia up 63-60 at the break and he finished the half with 23 points. The teams wrestled the rest of the way, setting up the scramble in the final minutes.
76ers: Were coming off a 119-111 victory over Sacramento to start a four-game road swing. … Philadelphia was without Shake Milton because of a left ankle sprain. He was hurt late in the game against the Kings.
Trail Blazers: It was the first of a back-to-back for Portland. … The Blazers wore their City Edition jerseys, which pay homage to Oregon’s Native American communities. … The Blazers were without rookie CJ Elleby because of an illness. CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic continue to nurse injuries.
COVINGTON’S BIG PLAY
Lillard praised Covington for his heads-up play to help seal the victory.
“He’s one of those guys that has a knack for disrupting plays,” Lillard said. “He takes chances.”
As for Rivers, he said: “I think I could’ve run a better play.”
The 76ers visit the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
The Trail Blazers host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.