Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers rookie center, continues to make the most of his opportunities. In doing so, he has helped the downtrodden Sixers fashion a modest home winning streak.Embiid scored 26 points, the highest total in his nine-game NBA career, to lead Philadelphia to a 120-105 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night, the Sixers third straight home victory.On Monday, he faces a sizable challenge when the Miami Heat, featuring NBA rebounding leader Hassan Whiteside, visits Philadelphia (3-10).Whiteside, who had 18 points, 18 boards and three blocked shots in the Heats 114-111 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, is averaging 17.7 points, 16.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks for Miami (4-8).Embiid, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, missed his first two seasons while recovering from a pair of foot surgeries. The team has been limiting him to 24 minutes a game as a precaution and will do so until at least Christmas. He has also been held out of four games to date.Embiid, who is averaging 22 minutes a game, nonetheless leads the Sixers in scoring (18.0) and rebounding (7.6).On Saturday, he poured in 17 points in the first quarter. Embiid told reporters afterward he was hoping to atone for the teams dismal performance on national television Thursday, a 110-86 loss at Minnesota.Thats just probably one of the main reasons I came out (on fire) in the first quarter, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. I just wanted to dominate.Embiid added that he was further motivated by social media criticism about being outplayed by Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns had 25 points and 10 rebounds while Embiid finished with 10 points and 10 boards. Embiid didnt think the criticism was justified because Towns didnt guard him.That made me mad, Embiid told the Inquirer. And thats food for me. I like that. I like competition. I want to fight. I want to win. So tonight I think it helped me a little bit.Miami guard Goran Dragic scored 22 points against Washington on Saturday, as the Heat won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Miami, which dropped six straight prior to that, generated a season-high point total and made half its shots. The Heat was shooting 42 percent from the floor, third-worst in the NBA, entering the game.Much better, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald. We still have a long ways to go. But guys are getting more comfortable, one in their roles and two where our strengths are. So thats a start.Heat backup center Willie Reed is not expected to play Monday, after hyperextending his right knee against Washington.Top overall pick Ben Simmons (foot) has yet to play this season for the Sixers, and is not expected to return until January at the earliest. 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Batiste, who briefly signed with the Eskimos in 2006, has spent time with several NFL teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins. SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- It is nowhere near as simple as making the hard part look easy and turning the simpler tasks into something far more difficult.But that is basically what Rory McIlroy finds himself faced with at the moment as he hits plenty of good shots but cant make the putts that would lead to good scores.The two-time PGA Championship winner who is ranked fourth in the world couldnt manage a single birdie Thursday at Baltusrol Golf Club, shooting a 4-over-par 74 that left him tied for 120th, 9 back of leader Jimmy Walker and searching for answers.You give yourself chances the first couple of holes, you dont convert, McIlroy said. You want to get off to a good start. I feel like, if I had holed one of those first two, it might have been a different story of the day. You get a little bit of momentum, and you get it going.With the poa annua greens, you start to look a lot into them. You read it from behind the ball and you see one line; you read it from behind the hole and it looks slightly different. You put yourself in two minds sometimes.Although the surface of the putting greens at Baltusrol might have given McIlroy fits, truth be told he has struggled with his putting for most of the year. He made a switch to a left-hand low grip in March, then changed back to a conventional grip in May despite winning the Irish Open with the new technique.Putting has typically been McIlroys nemesis, the part of his game that would be considered average or even substandard compared with the rest of his skills. He needed 35 putts Thursday despite hitting a respectable 9 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation.His proximity to the hole average of 31 feet is another problem, and for the year he ranks just 84th on the PGA Tour in approaches to the hole from 100 to 125 yards. From 125 to 150, it is even worse, as McIlroy is 148th, averaging 24 feet, 6 inches.Considering how far McIlroy hits the ball -- he averages 304 yards off the tee and was 308 on Thursday -- his inability to hit it close with short irons helps explain some of the putting woes.Just not a lot of momentum out there, said McIlroy, who shot his first over-parr score in the first round of a PGA, this being his eighth appearance in the event.dddddddddddd. But Im happy with my game from tee to green. Driving the ball as well as I have, ever. Iron play feels good.Just, when I get on the greens, its just a different story. I need to try and figure it out for tomorrow. Try to shoot something in the mid-60s and get myself back into it.McIlroy is not working with a putting coach at the moment and said he has simply tried to figure things out on his own, hoping to find the proper feel and pace.It is somewhat how his year has gone. He tied for 10th at the Masters but played the third round in 77 without a birdie. He won the Irish Open and tied for fourth at the Memorial, but missed the cut at the U.S. Open. He was in contention at the French Open, where he finished third, but never felt as if he was in the tournament at The Open, shooting a final-round 67 to snag a share of fifth -- although he was 16 shots behind winner Henrik Stenson.I feel theres been times where I got a little bit of momentum, and then sort of got set back a little bit, McIlroy said before the tournament. Its been a little stop-start in a way. But its hard. Im trying to stay as positive as I can. I feel like I am positive because my game is in good shape. But I guess just maybe running out of patience a little bit and trying to make it happen.That would have been understandable Thursday. Its tough to continually hit long drives or good approaches and come up with nothing. McIlroy had six birdie chances inside 15 feet and made none of them. He missed a couple of makeable par putts, too.There was not much more he could say other than hed work on it.Ill try to spend as much as I can, he said. Obviously its very hot out here. Ill possibly just go back to the house that we rented, chill out a little bit, and maybe come back this evening and hit some putts when it cools off. Not that it cools off that much in the evenings.McIlroys putter might be the only thing that is cold around Baltusrol. 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