Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Joel Embiid unleashes a 70-point lashing on the French Usurper and the Spurs

Reigning MVP Joel Embiid bolstered his case to keep his crown with the 14th 70-piece in NBA history. It was like watching a nuclear bomb go off at a test site, the collateral damage being the French Usurper and the San Antonio Spurs.

Embiid needed 35 seconds to draw a foul on rookie Julian Champagnie at the top of the key for switching carelessly, then canned three freebies. Next, he faced off with Victor Wembanyama, pulling up in front of him at the nail for a deuce.

Yet, not even three minutes in, the visitors led 14-5, as Wemby attempted to seduce the Philadelphia crowd with a successfully contested jumper against Embiid and a pull-up triple at the top. But the 76ers stormed to an 11-2 run playing through Embiid, exposing the left corner, attacking hard closeouts and dunking in transition to force Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call timeout.

Embiid logged a dozen extra points in the first quarter. He bumped Wemby inside for a dunk, overpowered Zach Collins before and after the catch for a layup plus hit a pull-up jumper at the nail covered by him, made two putbacks and connected on a four-foot shot in between three defenders.

The Phantom of the Process supplied 10 more points in the second quarter, shooting over Wembanyama and crashing into off-positioned help defenders for a trip to the charity line. He also drew the third foul of the half on the Spurs’ rookie center while posting him up.

Conversely, the Spurs were converting 40.9% of baskets for the frame, but Wembanyama had eight of its points, including a post-up then finger roll over Embiid.

At halftime, Embiid had 34 of the 76ers’ 62 points and 10 of its 27 rebounds. Additionally, the hosts racked up 38 marks in the paint, seven on the break, 12 off second opportunities and four via turnovers. Harris was the next leading scorer with eight on just as many tries.

The Spurs had 58 on the scoring ledger, with 10 on the break, three on second attempts and four from turnovers. Eighteen came from Wembanyama on seven of 11 shots. Devin Vassell was his partner in action with 12 points, making 62.5% of field goals.

In the third, Embiid kept ripping through defenses in the paint and hoisting over them at mid-range. His only misses were against Wembanyama at the elbow and paint and a double team under the rim. He finished the quarter with 10 of 15 baskets (25). The rest of the squad dropped six.

Embiid entered the fourth sequence with 59 on the scorecard, then accumulated 11 more, shooting over Jeremy Sochan twice at mid-range, plowing for a layup in transition and swishing five more free throws.

Wembanyama countered with a hook and a putback, and the rest of his team closed with 11 of 23 buckets, but it wasn’t sufficient. The 76ers were up 15 points at the start of it and were just outscored by five in the last 12 minutes.

The 76ers won 133-123, improving to a 29-13 record- a half-game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for second place in the East. Embiid had 70 points, making 58.5% of his tries, with 18 rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal.

Wembanyama had 33 points on 10 of 19 shots with seven rebounds.

The only other players to score as many points or more as Embiid are Wilt Chamberlain (100), Kobe Bryant (81), David Thompson (73), Elgin Baylor (71), Damian Lillard (71), Donovan Mitchell (71), David Robinson, (71) and Devin Booker (70). (Chamberlain broke 70 on six occasions.)

Embiid embraced teammates, former 76ers coach (currently a Spurs assistant) Brett Brown, then handled the on-court interview with Dennis Scott. While answering a question about Brown, he was interrupted by teammates pouring water on his head, affectionately cooling him off his heater.

This caused Scott to forget his first question and ask about the personal record. Sopping, Embiid said, “unselfish teammates got me the ball. I was hot, and they made sure to put me in the best position.”

At the postgame press conference, 76ers coach Nick Nurse said that when “he gets motivated like that, anything can happen.”

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1 reply
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