Doc Rivers

Trash talk, tussle fuel Joel Embiid to career night in win over Clippers

Trash talk, tussle fuel Joel Embiid to career night in win over Clippers

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — Joel Embiid is no stranger to trash talking. Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, even his best friend Nerlens Noel have been on the receiving end. They’ve all brushed it off. Willie Reed, not so much. Their hostile interaction was in the heat of the moment and neither were laughing. 

“I just wanted to go inside, especially against [DeAndre Jordan] and I don't know, what's his name? But that boy fouled out,” Embiid said in a walk-off interview after the Sixers’ 109-105 win over the Clippers on Monday night (see observations).

That player whose name just happened to slip Embiid’s mind was Reed.

The tension between the two bigs began less than two minutes into the second quarter. Reed did not approve of Embiid’s defense on him at the basket when he was whistled for traveling. Embiid reacted by pointing at Reed and smiling. 

That smile didn’t last long. 

Only seconds later, Embiid went up for a basket on the Sixers’ following possession. Reed pulled him down by the shoulder, sending the 7-foot-2, 280-pound center to the floor. 

Embiid bounced up and quickly got right in Reed’s face (see video). Their teammates and officials intervened before it went any further. The refs called Reed for a Flagrant 1. The Clippers’ reserve big man ended up fouling out with 23 seconds remaining in the game.

“He just did what he had to do,” Embiid said. “He was fouling me and he got a [flagrant] because he couldn’t guard me.”

Embiid thrives in situations like this. He’s not shy to initiate the banter, but if someone else does it first, he doesn’t object. Embiid was fueled by the exchanges and put them toward a career-high 36 minutes, career-high 16 rebounds, and season-high 32 points (see highlights). It was a bounce-back effort after scoring just 12 points against the Warriors on Saturday. 

“I love when guys come at the beginning of the game and start talking trash,” Embiid said. “It gets me going. That’s what I’ve been needing the past couple games and I think it got me going, too. They were being aggressive and that’s how they get in foul trouble and that’s how I do my job.” 

Embiid made 16 trips to the free throw line, a place he has said he wants to live this season. He connected for a season-high nine free throws.

“Embiid is a tough player,” Doc Rivers said. “He just drew foul after foul. He got [Jordan] and Willie in foul trouble. That tells you how good he is.” 

Still, Embiid had to be careful about getting wrapped up in the emotional side of the matchups. His tussle with Reed happened with 10:38 remaining in the first half. He could have let the incident get the best of him, but he collected himself and stayed focused the rest of the night.

“He walks that fine line, doesn’t he, of getting engaged, getting into the game,” Brett Brown said. “I thought that he did a really good job of staying on the side of the fence that didn’t produce anything harmful for the team, a technical or something like that. 

“He used his spirit and he used his sort of swagger to help motivate himself and us. He was dominant tonight. He wanted the ball. He was physical. Brutally physical at times. I thought his attitude stayed on that fence. He didn’t cross that line.” 

As for Embiid’s approach to keeping his cool, well, it’s simple. 

“I mean, I don’t want to get fined,” he said. “So just stay calm.”

NBA Notes: Clippers strip Doc Rivers of role as team president

uspresswire-clippers-doc-rivers.jpg
USA Today Images

NBA Notes: Clippers strip Doc Rivers of role as team president

LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers is losing his dual roles with the Los Angeles Clippers, keeping his position as coach while Lawrence Frank takes over Rivers' responsibility for basketball operations.

The team announced the changes Friday, saying the moves are "aimed at bringing the team to a new level of excellence by creating separate roles." The team says the change came as a result of discussions between Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer.

Rivers and Frank will be equals in the Clippers' power structure, with each reporting directly to Ballmer.

Last year, Frank was promoted to oversee day-to-day operations of the front office although Rivers retained his title as president of basketball operations. Frank and Rivers have a strong relationship and they worked together to make hires and changes in the front office structure.

Frank has had previous NBA head coaching jobs in New Jersey and Detroit.

"Doc knows how to win championships. That is what we prioritize, and that is what Doc will focus on," Ballmer said. "Lawrence is someone I learn from every single time I hear him talk. He gets recruiting, talent development and identification, salary cap strategy -- he gets it all. With these two guys at the helm, we will have great success" (see full story).

Wizards: Wall says ‘no point in testing free agency
WASHINGTON -- John Wall wants to win a championship, but he doesn't plan to bounce around the NBA chasing a ring.

After signing a $170 million, four-year extension with the Washington Wizards that keeps him under contract through 2022-23, Wall said he wants to watch two banners rise to the rafters in Washington: one for a title and another with his No. 2 jersey.

"There's no point in testing free agency if I know where I want to be," Wall said Friday. "I have the ultimate goal what I want to do here. I know what team I want to play for my whole career."

Wall turns 27 in September, so he'll only be 32 when this contract expires or 31 if he opts out in 2022. Backcourt mate Bradley Beal and swingman Otto Porter Jr. are signed to max contracts through 2021, giving the Wizards several seasons to try to win with this core.

In an era of players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant taking their talents elsewhere, Wall put his money where his mouth is by agreeing to another contract.

"It's critical that your star players want to stay and play for the team. That's not always the case," said Scott Brooks, who previously coached Durant in Oklahoma City. "We have our three players that we drafted all want to stay here and stay long term. It's good because if you don't have your best players want to stay here, nobody wants to stay here" (see full story).

Pistons: Drummond acknowledges need to improve
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a disappointing season -- one that raised significant questions about whether Andre Drummond is the type of player they envisioned when they gave him a massive contract.

Drummond admits 2016-17 wasn't good enough.

"It was like a roller coaster ride for me," Drummond said. "Just an inconsistent year for us as an organization."

The Pistons went 37-45 and missed the playoffs after making it in 2016. There were plenty of reasons for the team's decline -- particularly an injury-riddled season for point guard Reggie Jackson -- but Drummond is the player who may be under the most pressure to improve when the Pistons move into their new downtown arena later this year.

Drummond is set to play in Saturday's NBA Africa Game in South Africa, and he took part in a conference call this week. It's been an eventful year for the 23-year-old big man, who received a $130 million, five-year contract from the Pistons last offseason.

Less than a season after finalizing that deal, Drummond was already the subject of trade speculation.

"I never had to deal with that before," he said. "I wasn't playing the way I was supposed to play" (see full story).

Knicks: Oakley accepts deal to dismiss MSG charges
NEW YORK (AP) -- Former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley has reached a deal with prosecutors who charged him with striking a security guard at Madison Square Garden.

The Daily News reports that charges against Oakley will be dismissed and sealed after six months of good behavior.

Oakley said Friday that a trial would waste time and money that should be used to "keep the streets better for kids."

His lawyer says Oakley didn't need a trial to prove his innocence.

Oakley was a Knicks fan favorite from 1988 to 1998. But he's had a falling out with the organization.

On Feb. 8, he sat a few rows from Knicks owner James Dolan at a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Security approached and a fracas ensued. Oakley was ejected and handcuffed.