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Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has finished as the runner-up for the NBA MVP award in back-to-back seasons.

Through his team’s 26 games this year, Embiid continues to make a bold statement for consideration as the best player in the league.

Embiid scored 53 points — the second time he has eclipsed 50 this season — in a 131-113 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday to become the first Sixers player with multiple games of 50 or more points in a season since Allen Iverson had three during the 2004-05 campaign.

“We have a saying, ‘You got to feed the hot hand,'” Embiid said. “You have to keep feeding them until the defense stops them once, twice, or three times. I just kept scoring, and they just kept giving me the ball.”

Embiid will look to stay hot when the Sixers search for their third consecutive victory when they host the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Against the Hornets, Embiid was 20 of 32 from the field and 11 of 11 from the free-throw line for his fourth career game of at least 50 points and 10 rebounds. He finished with 12 boards.

James Harden added 19 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds for the 76ers. Following the victory, Harden was quick to credit his MVP candidate teammate.

“He (Embiid) was in attack mode for the entire game,” Harden said. “He made scoring look easy tonight. I mean, he was just in attack mode getting to the basket, and his jumpers were falling. He just had an aggressive night tonight.”

The Sixers will face the Kings without Tyrese Maxey for a 12th consecutive game because of a fractured left foot. Danuel House Jr. (lacerated left foot) has missed the past two games, and his status is unclear.

The Kings will look to rebound following a 112-99 road loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Domantas Sabonis scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Keegan Murray added 18 points, and Kevin Huerter had 17 for the Kings, who failed to score at least 100 points for the first time this season.

Harrison Barnes scored 15 and Malik Monk had 12 off the bench.

Yet the lack of offensive firepower was noticeable without leading scorer De’Aaron Fox, who has missed the past two games with right-foot soreness. Fox (22.8 points per game) is considered day-to-day.

The Kings shot just 10 of 39 from 3-point territory against the Knicks.

“When we can’t generate offense on a night like tonight, to have a guy that can go generate or give your guys some easy looks, give your guys some confidence, and then De’Aaron is capable of going off for 38 every time,” Kings coach Mike Brown said.

Brown praised the Knicks.

“You’ve got to give (credit to) their whole team, from (coach Tom Thibodeau) and the coaching staff to their players on down because they kicked my behind and all the other coaches and players in our locker room’s behinds today,” Brown said.

–Field Level Media