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76ers celebrate Maxey's first All-Star berth, career-high 51 points without Embiid

Tyrese Maxey Philadelphia 76ers Tyrese Maxey - The Canadian Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tyrese Maxey sat at his locker and held a piece of paper with 51 scrawled on it — a fun nod to Wilt Chamberlain’s classic “ 100 ” photo — in honor of the performance of his career.

Scratch that.

Try, the day of his career.

Perhaps 2020 NBA draft night might have been the only Maxey milestone to top the 23-year-old guard’s landmarks Thursday in Utah. The Philadelphia 76ers player learned hours before tipoff against the Jazz he was a first-time NBA All-Star.

Good enough, for most. For Maxey?

With NBA MVP Joel Embiid sidelined by a knee injury, Maxey hit seven 3-pointers and dropped a career-best 51 points to lead the Sixers to their only win on a 1-4 road trip.

Yes, the Sixers are Embiid’s team, and they’ll only go as far as the oft-injured center can take them on one or two gimpy legs. Maxey’s breakout season means at least the Sixers can try to stay afloat among the top teams in the East in Embiid’s absence.

“It was a big jump-up year for him,” coach Nick Nurse said. “I always keep saying, the exciting thing is, I think he’s got a long way to go to reach his ceiling yet.”

For a night, at least, Maxey reached the top.

The 76ers lumbered through a brutal first four games of the trip, losing Embiid to an injured lateral meniscus in his left knee all while Maxey sat out three games because of a sprained left ankle.

Healthy enough against the Jazz, Maxey went wild and topped his previous career high of 50 — set Nov. 12 at home against Indiana.

Some notables from the game.

— He was 17 of 27 from the field, 7 of 9 on 3s and made 10 of 11 free throws. He’s the first Sixer to have at least seven 2-point field goals, seven 3s and seven free throws.

— Maxey joined Embiid, who scored a franchise-best 70 points earlier this month, as one of five NBA players this season with multiple 50-point games.

— Maxey, Embiid and Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain are the only Sixers with multiple 50-point games in a career.

— Maxey, who now has four 40-point games, reached 51 points without a turnover. He made his first six 3-pointers.

— Maxey and Tobias Harris combined to score the 76ers’ first 26 points in the game.

Harris called it a “beautiful thing” when he looked at the scoreboard and realized Maxey scored a career-high only hours after earning the All-Star selection.

Nurse tossed Maxey the game ball in the locker room and yelled, “51, baby!”

Maxey told the Sixers social media account he learned of his All-Star berth in the hotel room. He tried to watch the selection show on YouTube TV but streaming issues meant a lag time in the real-time announcement vs. when he heard his name called.

“My mom, and Joel, they’re blowing up my phone,” Maxey said. “I keep trying to decline it so I can hear what Charles (Barkley) said.”

Maxey's 51 points bumped his season average to 26.3 and he'll need to keep that number going for the Sixers to try and get anywhere in the East without Embiid. Embiid will miss at least one more game, Saturday at home against Brooklyn.

The 76ers are still finalizing a treatment plan.

Embiid, the two-time NBA scoring champion, was hurt after Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga fell on the 7-footer’s left leg.

The 76ers are 30-17 and were in fifth place ahead of Friday's games in the East standings — but just 4-9 without Embiid.

“We had some shaky performances,” Nurse said. “Then we kind of got in a groove and had some good ones. We got a bunch of good road wins without him. We kind of knew, we've got to be able to survive without him.”

Maxey made it all good for a night.

“The vibes are good now,” Maxey said. “We needed this W.”