Ben Simmons has been forced to pass a big test as he posted an NBA career-high 31 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 118-113 win over the Washington Wizards.
The Australian rookie top-scored in the home clash but also performed poorly at the free throw line and the Wizards deliberately fouled him as they rallied late in the game.
He made just 15 of his 29 free throw shots, having entered the game with a 56.6 per cent record from the line.
Joel Embiid had 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Dario Saric added 24 points to help the Sixers (12-8) win for the sixth time in their last eight games.
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 22 points and Bradley Beal and Jodie Meeks each had 21 for the Wizards (11-10), who have lost five of their last seven and were without injured star John Wall.
Washington nearly overcame a 22-point deficit in the fourth quarter and spent the final five minutes intentionally fouling Simmons, using the tactic made famous when teams used to target NBA great Shaquille O'Neal similarly due to his free-throw weakness.
It was 96-88 when Washington began to send Simmons to the foul line.
He missed four of eight free throws as Philadelphia's lead dwindled to 100-97 with 3:35 to go.
After Simmons made one and missed one, Embiid grabbed the rebound and got fouled. He made one of two. Beal then missed a jumper and Simmons again went to the line and made both, extending the lead to 104-97.
But Beal answered with a 3 before Simmons made two more free throws. Simmons then made one and missed one and Embiid fouled out, sending Beal to the line for three. He made all three.
Tomas Satoransky's short jumper trimmed Philadelphia's lead to 116-113 with 11.4 seconds left, but Jerryd Bayless iced it at the foul line.