After the steal, Huerter passed the ball to Cam Reddish, who missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Embiid admitted and apologized for the gesture in an on-court interview immediately after the game. He later explained what prompted his action.
“There’s always this thing about you shouldn’t shoot the ball if you’re up 20, something like that,” Embiid told reporters. “I feel like it should go both ways, too. I mean, I’m running the clock down and I feel like the game is over, that’s why I’m doing it.
“But to me, if the other team is going to keep playing defense and they’re going to keep shooting the ball at the other end, I feel like we should just be like, ‘Well, be better next time,’ and just go out and score. I thought about it when I had the ball again, but I was like ‘Eh, I’m going to stay cool.’”
Embiid, who scored a career-high 49 points, could be fined by the NBA for the gesture.
The Hawks play the 76ers for the final time this season March 21 in Philadelphia.