Joel Embiid finally was back with the 76ers on Saturday night after missing three weeks due to a positive COVID-19 result.

After scoring 42 points in a double-overtime loss to the Timberwolves in Philadelphia, the vaccinated four-time All-Star center said the virus “hit me hard” with breathing issues and “headaches worse than a migraine.”

“I mean, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. It was that bad,” Embiid said. “So I’m just thankful to be sitting here. I’m just glad I got over it.”

The Sixers dropped seven of nine games without Embiid since his previous appearance on Nov. 6, and Saturday’s loss dropped their overall record to 10-10.

Embiid started slowly in Saturday’s game, but he wound up logging 45 minutes, netting 25 points in the fourth quarter and the two overtime sessions.

“I didn’t think I was going to play tonight. To me, it’s a miracle I played this many minutes, but it’s good,” Embiid said.

“Joel was phenomenal tonight, but we still lost the game,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers added. “Joel would take 30 [if we would have won]. … Give him credit [because] he’s been working out and he showed us that.”

Joel Embiid COVID 76ers
76ers All-Star Joel Embiid (#21) described his difficult COVID battle after returning for Saturday’s game against the Timberwolves.

Minnesota forward Karl-Anthony Towns, whose mother Jacqueline and several other family members died of complications from COVID-19 last year, said he was happy to see Embiid return healthy.

“That’s bigger than basketball,” said Towns, who finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the 10-10 Timberwolves. “I’ve seen people die from that.”

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