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Embiid returns to starting lineup against Pacers

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid made his presence felt against the visiting Indiana Pacers on Sunday, scoring 33 points and pulling down 12 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup after missing the previous eight games due to left knee soreness.

The 76ers beat the Pacers 106-89 to move into sole possession of the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid hadn't played since the All-Star Game, where he scored 10 points in 23 minutes.

The Sixers were 4-4 in Embiid's absence and had lost two straight, including Friday's 107-91 defeat at Houston.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said Wednesday the goal was to have Embiid healthy in time for the playoffs.

"The bottom line is we have come this far in relation to rest after the All-Star break -- personally, I am at a stage where if it requires more time, so be it," Brown said. "The endgame is obvious: It is trying to deliver him to the playoffs healthy. I do look up from time to time and pay attention to the calendar. It's not like you have an abundance of time."

ESPN's Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.