New Orleans’ Naji Marshall, center, goes up for a shot between Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, right, and Tobias Harris during the second half Friday in Philadelphia. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid had 37 points and 13 rebounds to the tune of “MVP! MVP!” chants and the Philadelphia 76ers inched closer toward securing the top spot in the East with a 109-107 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Embiid made two free throws with 1:39 left to bring the Sixers within one, then grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end to set up Tobias Harris’ 3 with 1:10 left that made it 109-107. Philadelphia forced two turnovers to seal the victory.

The Sixers (46-21) won their season-high seventh straight game and increased their lead to three games over Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference. Barring a crazy collapse over the final five games, the Sixers will win the conference and home-court advantage through the conference playoffs. The Sixers are 26-7 at home this season and they won another tight one against a Pelicans team playing without Zion Williamson (finger).

Don’t necessarily count Coach Doc Rivers among those impressed with winning the conference.

“I don’t look at being a No. 1 seed as this great achievement,” he said. “I just think it’s great to have because of home court. The achievement is winning it (all). Everything else is what you need to do to try and win.”

Embiid and the Sixers are rolling as they head toward a postseason series with the winner of an East play-in tournament. Harris scored 17 points.

Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe both scored 18 points for the Pelicans.

HEAT 121, TIMBERWOLVES 112: Tyler Herro returned after a six-game absence and scored 27 points, Jimmy Butler had 25 and Miami moved back into the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, beating visiting Minnesota.

Goran Dragic added 23 points for Miami. Herro, who had been out because of right foot soreness, was 10 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 from 3-point range for Miami (36-31).

The win, combined with a loss at Chicago by Boston (35-32), allowed the Heat to pass the Celtics in the standings. Miami opens a two-game series in Boston on Sunday, the teams battling to avoid having to be part of the play-in tournament that awaits the teams finishing between No. 7 and No. 10 in each conference.

BUCKS 141, ROCKETS 133: Brook Lopez had 24 points and Khris Middleton scored 21 of his 23 in the second half to help Milwaukee beat short-handed Houston for its fifth consecutive victory, in Milwaukee.

The Bucks (43-24) tied Brooklyn for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks also have the tiebreaker advantage over Brooklyn because they won two of their their three regular-season meetings.

HORNETS 122, MAGIC 112: Terry Rozier scored 28 points, LaMelo Ball added 27 points and Charlotte inched closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament by beating visiting Orlando.

MAVERICKS 110, CAVALIERS 90: Luka Doncic scored 24 points in 23 minutes and Dallas kept the prime spot in a tight race to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament by breezing to a win at home.


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