Joel Embiid

Embiid ditches tape for dominance in Sixers' comeback

Embiid ditches tape for dominance in Sixers' comeback


NEW YORK — Joel Embiid brushed off concern over taping his left wrist Thursday leading up to the Sixers’ game against the Knicks.

“It’s just swag,” Embiid said following the Sixers’ 118-110 win (see observations). “I just wanted to look swaggy, so I thought it was a great look for me. Some type of new swag. That’s why I had it.”

Embiid’s wrist was taped during morning shootaround and pregame warmups. He did not wear it during the game. 

“It’s been feeling weird lately, but I don’t think it’s anything,” Embiid said. “I’ve been playing alright, so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.” 

Embiid played more than alright Thursday at Madison Square Garden. He erased any uneasiness of a potential injury with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. The big man scored 13 points in the first quarter alone. 

With 2:26 to go in the game, he blocked an attempted layup by Emmanuel Mudiay that would have given the Knicks back the lead.

“He was the major reason we won tonight,” Brett Brown said. “Joel was our bell ringer tonight. Tomorrow is his birthday. It was a good present we all had with his performance tonight.”

The sight of Embiid's wrist probably would not have raised an eyebrow for most players — athletes wear medical tape every game — but the center’s lengthy injury history and his importance to the Sixers were enough to cause concern.

He is averaging 23.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. After playing under medical restrictions to start his career, Embiid has appeared in 12 straight games. 

Embiid is slated to spend his 24th birthday taking on the Nets Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Sixers use monster 4th quarter to rally past Knicks

Sixers use monster 4th quarter to rally past Knicks


NEW YORK — The Sixers were on the verge of being the reason why the Knicks snapped a dismal eight-game losing streak. Instead, they ramped up their efforts in the fourth quarter to extend the Knicks’ skid.

After trailing by 13 points and down eight after three, the Sixers outscored the Knicks 35-19 in the final 12 minutes to pull off a 118-110 comeback Thursday.

The Sixers still need to clamp down as they approach the playoffs. While they have acknowledged no team can be overlooked, they have to take advantage of matchups against struggling teams to move up in the closely-matched standings. The Knicks now have lost 17 of their last 18 games.

“Some of that I give them [credit]. Some of it, I think, we can't play like that,” Brett Brown said. “There needs to be more of a sense of urgency to trend in the way we want to trend as the exciting part of the season comes closer.”

The Sixers moved up to 37-30 while the Knicks dropped to 24-45. 

• Joel Embiid always was listed as available to play, but tape on his left wrist during shootaround and pregame warmups raised questions about his health. Brown did not know the reason for the tape and Embiid did not address the media prior to the game.

Embiid showed he was more than OK to play. He kicked off the night with 13 points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 29. He added 10 rebounds and four assists for his 35th double-double of the season. 

• Ben Simmons notched his eighth triple-double: 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He passed Magic Johnson for sole place of second for triple-doubles by a rookie. Oscar Robertson holds the record with 26 in 1960-61.

“To be with those names, it's surreal,” Simmons said. “Knowing the games been's played for a long time, so many greats have been through.”

Simmons proved he can be a high-caliber point guard in the NBA, but Brown isn’t locked in on him playing the point his entire career. Brown said before the game he believes Simmons could play some power forward in his career. Simmons' reaction? “Definitely a one, not four,” he said. 

• Robert Covington came up big beyond the arc. All 15 of his points were off threes. 

• This was a stat-stuffing night: five players (Embiid, Dario Saric, Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn) recorded double-doubles while Simmons had the triple-double. 

• Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Furkan Korkmaz (left foot) remained out. They went through pregame drills seen here: 

• Madison Square Garden is a loud arena and Knicks fans are prideful, but that didn’t stop Philadelphia fans from breaking out into a roaring “E-A-G-L-E-S” chant during the game. And, as always, they also yelled “Trust the Process.” 

Sixers a physical object on Pacers' playoff radar

Sixers a physical object on Pacers' playoff radar


If the Sixers face the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, get ready for a physical battle. The Pacers will be doing just that.

Tuesday’s meeting in mid-March was a potential postseason preview with the Pacers (40-28) and Sixers (36-30) ranked third and sixth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference. 

The Pacers made a statement with their 101-98 win (see observations)

“We try to set examples early,” Lance Stephenson said. “We ain't no jokes. We're coming after you.” 

The Pacers have been keeping an eye on the Sixers as they fight to rise in the standings. The Sixers are chasing a coveted top-four seed to secure home-court advantage. The Pacers, who are 23-12 at home compared to 16-17 on the road, are in the same battle. 

“Most definitely, you've got to have your hard hat on when you play against these boys, especially here at home, because they're a physical team,” Al Jefferson said. “I know if we do get a chance to play them in the first [round], it's going to be a physical series.”

Both teams have turned heads this season. The Pacers looked more like a lottery team than a playoff contender after trading Paul George to the Thunder. That is, before Victor Oladipo kicked off his breakout season and the Pacers clicked far beyond expectations. 

The Sixers had the potential to make the playoffs, but battling for home court, that’s playing at a different level of basketball. 

“They're a young team that plays hard,” Myles Turner said. “I feel like they've used a lot of fuel over the past couple of years as not being like a relevant team to kind of fuel their play this year.”

The Pacers won the regular-season series, 2-1. The Sixers triumphed in their first meeting Nov. 3 in Philadelphia thanks to 31 points from JJ Redick and a triple-double from Ben Simmons. The Pacers spoiled Joel Embiid’s first career back-to-back set with a balanced team effort Feb. 3 in Indianapolis. Tuesday’s game came down to the wire as 21 turnovers stifled the Sixers in a chippy matchup (see story)

The Pacers have had enough of a sample size to know what to anticipate in a postseason series. Jefferson noted the balance of rising young talent and experienced veterans. Former Sixer Thaddeus Young pointed out specifically the impact of Simmons’ size mismatch and passing abilities as well as Embiid’s versatility and floor spacing. 

“They're just a resilient team. They fight each and every game and they continue to play hard,” Young said. “That's what makes them tough. They've done a very, very good job of putting the team together. Brett Brown is a damn good coach.”

With only four games separating the third seed from the eighth in the Eastern Conference, it is far too soon to tell where the Sixers will end up in the standings. The Pacers are using Tuesday's win as a learning experience in case they are matched up.

"They always play physical," Stephenson said. "You've just got to stay poised and play your game. But they're a great team. I like how they play together. So we just pulled it out tonight."