PHILADELPHIA – Joel Embiid said it was “awesome” to be put in the same conversation as Wilt Chamberlain after he became the ninth player in NBA history to score 70 points in an NBA game and broke Chamberlain's franchise record of 68 points in the process.
“Clearly, Wilt has accomplished…everything [in] “The history of this league and basketball in general,” Embiid said after his 70 points helped the Sixers beat the San Antonio Spurs 133-123 on Monday night. “So, to be in the same conversation, that's pretty cool.”
Embiid finished with 70 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists, a streak that had never occurred in NBA history before Monday's game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“It was just a great night,” he said. “I nailed it. I've mentioned a few times that a lot of my teammates were very unselfish and kept giving me the ball and I just finished it.”
Embiid finished it off again and again, going 24-for-41 from the field and 21-for-23 from the foul line, and eventually reached 70 points when he went coast-to-coast for a layup. Several defenders with 1:41 remaining.
He also had season highs of 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and just 1 turnover in 36 minutes.
Embiid scored 24 points in the first quarter, 34 in the first half and 59 — matching his previous career high, set last year here against the Utah Jazz — after three quarters, when he closed the third with a ridiculous 3-pointer. .
“I think the time it hit me was the start of the third period,” 76ers coach Nick Nurse said. “I think he had a bucket and-1, like in the first minute. I was like, 'Wait a minute, he's already got 37, 38, something like that.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, that's a lot, and there's still half to go.'” complete.'”
At that point, with Philadelphia (29-13) leading by 15 points after three quarters, it wasn't clear whether Embiid would get a shot at the record or whether the 76ers, as they have done several other times this season, would spoil the game. Open up in the fourth quarter and give Embiid the rest of the night off.
But San Antonio (8-35) hung on, outscored by 33 points and 7 rebounds from rookie Victor Wimpanyama, and the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center erupted in a standing ovation when Embiid reentered the game with 6:38 left. .
“The only thing I said to my teammates is please don’t force this,” Embiid said. “Let's just play basketball. If you're open, pass the ball, and if I'm not, make sure you make the right play.”
He was immediately fouled on his first offensive possession back on the court in the fourth quarter and made two free throws to set a new career high. He then continued to add to his collection as the final frame progressed. Fans increasingly demanded Embiid to fire at every opportunity — so much so that reserve forward Danuel House Jr. was booed for taking an open corner 3.
“It is unfortunate that Danwell House was booed [making the right play]”We were just trying to play the right way and make the right plays. Obviously I shot and they found me a lot,” Embiid said with a smile.
Ultimately, Embiid tied Chamberlain's record with 1:57 remaining on a pair of free throws. Then, after Philadelphia got a stop at the other end, it went coast-to-coast hitting 70 and was out of the game just seconds later.
Ultimately, this was just the latest in a string of stunning offensive performances by Embiid this season, as the NBA's most valuable player remains on pace to have the greatest scoring season in NBA history. Through 32 games, he has 1,156 points in 1,096 minutes; This pace of over a point per minute is something only Chamberlain has done in league history.
Embiid, already coming off winning the NBA scoring title in each of the past two seasons, is now averaging 36.1 points per game this season — a full three points better than he posted last year in his first MVP campaign.
“He's great,” said Therese Maxey, who scored 18 points and eight assists. “I keep telling everyone, we can't take this for granted. Not just as teammates, not as an organization, but as fans… Even if you're not a Philadelphia fan, if you're just a basketball fan, you can't take Joe for granted. Take it for granted man, what he's doing now is special.
“He doesn't just do it from layups, he doesn't just do it from 3-pointers. He does it from everything. He makes free throws. He does a lot out there. And you know, the kick is that he's on the other end,” he said. Defense too. He's not taking any nights on defense. So, you know, we appreciate it, and everyone should appreciate it too.”
One of the people who expressed their appreciation for Embiid's performance was Wimpanyama, who was impressive in his first match against Embiid. He admitted afterward that playing against Embiid on Monday night was “inspiring.”
“A few years ago, it was like a guard game,” Wembanyama said. “But now, we're back to the big guy game. I think that makes sense in terms of the game. We have guys, some guys around the league that do a lot of things despite being tall.”
“It's the way the game is changing. Now, we have to adapt.”
Embiid has been adapting his game for years and is playing better than ever. That was evident not only when he surpassed 70 points, which he did without warming up before Monday's game, arriving to the court late because of traffic, but because he felt he could have scored more.
“I feel like when you take 40 shots, obviously you're supposed to have a big night,” Embiid said. “I was really mad at myself, because I missed a lot of easy shots that I had been making all season. A lot of easy pull-ups.
“But when you shoot that many shots, which I never thought I would do that many shots in my life, obviously you're going to do some, and you're going to have a big night.”
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