Kristaps Porzingis

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

While Joel Embiid was sharing his first All-Star nod with his teammates and deciding to move on from his former crush, at least one person wasn’t happy that the Sixers’ center was tabbed as a starter.

Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis feels like he should have garnered that final frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Players know,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

True, Porzingis had more of the players’ support as he finished third in the East in that category compared to Embiid in fourth. 

However, Embiid had the trump card with a pair of third-place finishes in both media and fan voting while Porzingis came in fourth. The fan vote was the main key, as it accounted for 50 percent of the overall tally.

“I feel very blessed to be in this type of position,” Embiid said Thursday. “Thank all the fans out there for the support. It’s been a tough couple of years and I really appreciate it — everybody out there, everybody around me, the whole team, the whole organization, the fans especially, for making this happen. We can only get better from here.”

If Embiid is going to get even better, look out. He’s already averaging 23.9 points (48.7 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Oh yeah, he also has the Sixers with a 21-20 record and sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Porzingis’ overall numbers have gone down every month this season. He’s currently putting up 23.6 points (43.4 percent shooting), 6.9 boards, 1.2 assists and 2.4 blocks a night. And the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to 20-25.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Porzingis said. “Fans are one thing. It is what it is. There are a lot of things I could have done better also. It is what it is.”

Joel Embiid's Broadway Christmas show

Joel Embiid's Broadway Christmas show

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Joel Embiid wanted to give Sixers fans the gift of a win on Christmas Day. He and his teammates accomplished that with a 105-98 victory over the Knicks.

The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak and improved to 15-18 on the season.

Kristaps Porzingis (22 points, seven rebounds) garners attention in any game and is the player on the Knicks to watch, but this one turned into a battle of the centers. Enes Kanter put up a massive 31-point, 22-rebound double-double. Embiid was right behind with 25 points and 16 boards in 34 minutes.

• Embiid played after going through pregame warmups to test his back. Taking the court on Christmas Day was significant to him. 

“To me, it’s special because I’ve been here four years and we’ve gone through a lot and a lot of losing,” he said before the game. “To be in this type of matchup, especially with the whole world watching on Christmas, I’m excited.” 

• Turnovers (15 total) crept in toward the end of the game. After Simmons put the Sixers up 103-95 with a two-handed fastbreak dunk, New York's Courtney Lee stole the ball from Embiid with 30 seconds to go. Lee drained a three on the break and Embiid fouled Porzingis on the play, setting up a potential four-point play. But Porzingis missed the free throw and Embiid secured the rebound. 

• Embiid took spills throughout the game, including one chasing a ball out of bounds and another colliding with Jarrett Jack during a drive to the basket. Jack was called for a Flagrant 1, which sparked a free-throw shooting flurry by Embiid, who finished 7 for 8 from the line. 

• T.J. McConnell has a flair for playing against the Knicks. Remember, he hit a game-winning buzzer-beater on them last season. On Monday, he contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench. McConnell became the first Sixers reserve player to score 15 points on Christmas Day since 1988 when Ron Anderson and Gerald Henderson both reached that mark. 

• JJ Redick made his return after missing the last two games because of right hamstring tightness. The veteran quickly got into a rhythm, scoring 15 points in the first half. He finished with 24 (4 for 8 from three, 8 for 8 from the line). 

• Both Dario Saric and Robert Covington had off-shooting afternoons. Covington went 2 for 8 from the field and 1 for 4 from three. Saric kept looking for his shot when it wasn’t falling, going 4 for 15 from the field and 0 for 6 from long range. 

• Before the game, Simmons (eight points, eight rebounds, three assists) gifted all of his teammates with Beats by Dre headphones. 

• The Sixers played on Christmas Day for the first time since 2001, when they competed in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Historically, the Sixers are 6-5 against the Knicks on Christmas Day (five games as the Syracuse Nationals) but have not faced them on Dec. 25 since 1978. 

Best of NBA: Harden's career-high 56 points lead Rockets past Jazz

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Best of NBA: Harden's career-high 56 points lead Rockets past Jazz

HOUSTON — James Harden scored a career-high 56 points and added 13 assists in just 35 minutes to lead the Houston Rockets to a 137-110 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

Harden finished 19 of 25 from the field after missing his last three attempts. The MVP runner-up was a perfect 7 for 7 from beyond the arc until he missed a step-back 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter as the shot clock was about to expire.

Even when the Jazz could deny Harden his shot, he dished it off for someone else to score. Eric Gordon scored 20 points, Trevor Ariza had 14 and Nene scored 13 off the bench.

Harden received a standing ovation from the Toyota Center crowd, which rained down "MVP! MVP!" chants at multiple points during the game. He had 22 points in both the first and third quarters, 30 at halftime and sat for the final 7:32 of the blowout.

Porzingis pours in 40, Knicks come from 19 down to beat Pacers
NEW YORK — Kristaps Porzingis scored a career-high 40 points, carrying the New York Knicks back from a 19-point deficit to a 108-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.

Porzingis added eight rebounds and six blocked shots in his seventh 30-point performance in nine games this season.

Rookie Frank Ntilikina made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining as the Knicks won for the fifth time in six games after an 0-3 start. He had 10 points and seven assists off the bench. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 16 points.

Thaddeus Young scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo had 17 for the Pacers, who led 84-65 with under 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter (see full recap).

Beal scores 38 as Wizards beat Raptors without Wall
TORONTO — Bradley Beal scored 38 points, Otto Porter Jr. had 19 and the Washington Wizards overcame the absence of All-Star point guard John Wall to beat Toronto 107-96 on Sunday night, winning for the second time in 11 meetings with the Raptors.

Marcin Gortat had 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. each scored 10 points for the Wizards, who had lost four of their previous five.

Wall sat out because of a sprained left shoulder sustained in Friday's 130-122 loss to Cleveland. He is expected to return for Tuesday's home game against Dallas.

Toronto lost its starting point guard when Kyle Lowry was ejected with 8:08 remaining in the second quarter after picking up two technical fouls in quick succession for arguing. Lowry finished with two points in 12 minutes (see full recap.) 

Schroeder, Hawks end 8-game skid, beat Cavaliers 
CLEVELAND —Coming off LeBron James' 57-point performance, it appeared the Cavaliers had finally gained some momentum.

A team that hadn't won since its season opener proved otherwise.

Dennis Schroeder scored 28 points and the injury-riddled Atlanta Hawks ended an eight-game losing streak, beating skidding Cleveland 117-115 on Sunday.

The Hawks hadn't won since beating Dallas on Oct. 18 and were missing five players, but the Cavaliers went down to yet another puzzling loss.

James, who had 26 points and 13 rebounds, was soaking his feet in a tub of ice water and had ice wraps on both knees and his right elbow following the game. He didn't have an explanation for why there was no carry-over from Friday's 130-122 win over Washington (see full recap).