amir johnson

Joel Embiid in, Markelle Fultz out for Sixers' preseason finale tonight

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Joel Embiid in, Markelle Fultz out for Sixers' preseason finale tonight

Joel Embiid is in, Markelle Fultz is out for the Sixers' preseason finale tonight in Kansas City against the Miami Heat.

Embiid is expected to play around 15 minutes tonight. He was his typical impressive self in 15 minutes Wednesday against the Nets, scoring 22 points with seven rebounds, three assists and a block. Somehow, he was able to go 14 for 18 from the foul line in that limited time. Embiid's looking forward to continuing to frustrate those who guard him this season.

Fultz will miss the game with right knee soreness. He'll end the preseason having played just two of five games, missing three with a combination of knee and shoulder soreness. 

Amir Johnson (ankle) will also miss Friday's game, which will be on NBC Sports Philadelphia at 8:30 p.m. and streamed live here and on the NBC Sports App.

Sixers' Amir Johnson, a Las Vegas resident, shaken by Strip massacre

Sixers' Amir Johnson, a Las Vegas resident, shaken by Strip massacre

CAMDEN, N.J. -- When Sixers forward Amir Johnson bought an offseason home minutes off the Las Vegas Strip three years ago, he never imagined there would be an attack in the city.

On Sunday night, more than 50 people were killed and over 500 hurt when a gunman opened fire into a crowd of concertgoers from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

“Devastating,” Johnson said.

Johnson was visibly shaken by the incident Monday afternoon at practice. His mother texted him from Las Vegas to let him know she was safe. Those who were harmed were on his mind.

“It almost leaves you lost for words and it had me tear up this morning just to kind of see, just think about the people that had the kids and all that shooting, shooting on the Strip,” he said. “It’s a very sad moment.”

Johnson said he plans to research more details of the shooting as they become available. He pointed to the possibility of tougher gun laws.

“I feel like we should make the gun laws a little bit more strict because I hate to hear stuff like this,” Johnson said. “With the school shootings, too, and they have guns in the school, they should just clean up this mess, man.”

The Las Vegas area has become an offseason home for many players around the NBA. Many, like Johnson, train at the well-known Impact Basketball on East Sunset Road in the summer. Las Vegas is also the site of Summer League as well as Team USA Basketball events.

Johnson, 30, didn’t think twice about being in the city. Now he does.

“It almost kind of second guesses you like, ‘Man, should I go to Vegas?’” Johnson said. “Because people [are] constantly coming in and out, hanging on the Strip. Then you’ve got to kind of second guess, man, maybe another massacre shooting is going to come out.

“It’s really scary, man, when you think about all the stuff that’s going on and now you’ve got to be worried about protesting, you’ve got hurricanes coming, and you just want to be safe. All you can do is really sit back and pray and keep your head on a swivel.”

The Sixers discussed the shooting before practice as part of a regular team discussion on current events.

“I would have never thought Vegas,” Johnson said. “Vegas is the fun spot.”

Sixers' big men work to expand shooting range to 3-point line

Sixers' big men work to expand shooting range to 3-point line

CAMDEN, N.J. — A group of Sixers gathered at the three-point line and moved around the arc for a spirited shooting drill. They trash-talked and bantered as each pulled up from long range, a sight one would expect from the overflow of guards or perimeter players. 

Only this enthusiasm was coming from four centers — Joel Embiid, Richaun Holmes, Amir Johnson and Jahlil Okafor. The Sixers have tasked their bigs with incorporating three-point shooting into their practice routines. 

“For the most part, all of our guys, it’s not out of their wheelhouse to shoot threes,” Brett Brown said Wednesday. “Apart from the fun, competitive side of it, it’s the way our sport is trending.” 

The Sixers shot 34.0 percent from three last season, tying the Bulls for 25th in the league. They added shooters to their backcourt, most notably three-point wiz JJ Redick. Between the NBA’s position-less basketball and the Sixers’ unconventional lineup with a 6-foot-10 point guard in Ben Simmons, however, it is not unlikely to see centers stretching the floor and taking outside shots. 

“We still recognize that we like getting the bigs the ball close to the rim,” Brown said. “But when it does happen, we don’t discourage it if they’re wide open.”

Of the group, Johnson has the most three-point experience. The 13th-year veteran expanded his game in 2013 and shot 40.9 percent with the Celtics last season. 

Embiid was not shy to shoot treys as a rookie. He showed off his dream of being a guard by attempting 98 threes in 31 games (36.7 percent). Holmes also worked on drills after practice last season and shot 35.1 percent (27 of 77).

“We saw what Joel Embiid did last year,” Brown said. “We’ve seen the growth that Richaun Holmes has made. Amir Johnson has effectively reinvented himself because he now has that truly, especially in the corners, in his arsenal.”

As for Okafor, who also knocked down shots, don’t expect that to become his new go-to move. He has made one three over his two-year career and didn’t attempt any last season.

“That’s probably having more fun than it will become a part of his game,” Brown said. “But who am I to say it’ll never be a part of your game? At this stage, it’s not something that we would run a play for.” 

Injury updates
Okafor participated in 5-on-5 for limited parts of the scrimmage in Wednesday’s practice. He missed the final 11 games of last season because of right knee soreness. Okafor had been restricted to 3-on-3 for the start of camp. 

Embiid worked on shooting drills, cardio and resistance training in his rehab from left knee surgery. 

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (knee tendinitis) went through parts of practice and did not participate in 5-on-5.