LA Clippers

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

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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.”

Sixers-Clippers observations: Young guns help snap skid

Sixers-Clippers observations: Young guns help snap skid

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LOS ANGELES — Welcome back to Philadelphia. I mean, Los Angeles. It was hard to tell by how loud the fans for the opposing team were at the STAPLES Center. 

There were tussles, dunks and back-and-forth basketball in front of a divided crowd Monday night in the Sixers’ 109-105 win. 

• The Sixers started off hot in California. Early on, Robert Covington and Ben Simmons combined to outscore all of the Clippers 17-16. The Sixers dominated the first quarter, 36-28, as only Lou Williams was in a rhythm for the Clippers. 

• You could feel the tension brewing between Joel Embiid and Willie Reed less than two minutes into the second quarter, and it was no surprise things got chippy. Reed took exception to Embiid’s defense when he was called for a traveling violation. Embiid pointed at Reed and smiled it off, which didn’t exactly squash the issue. Quite the opposite, actually. 

On the next trip down the court, Reed pulled Embiid down by the shoulder as the Sixers’ center went up at the basket. Embiid hit the ground, bounced back up and got in Reed’s face (see video). The big men were separated and Reed was issued a Flagrant 1 foul.

• The Sixers pushed their lead up to 14 points five minutes into the second quarter. The Clippers kept chasing, though, and finished the half on a 9-2 run while the Sixers missed four shots and committed three turnovers. The Sixers led 55-53 at halftime, fueled by 19 points by Embiid. 

• The third was another problematic quarter for the Sixers, just like their last game against the Warriors. They squandered a nine-point lead with just over seven minutes to go and found themselves trailing after the Clippers went on a 12-2 spurt. Embiid scored just four points in the third. 

• This was the type of game that felt like it would come down to the buzzer. Embiid tied the game 100 apiece off a cutting layup from Simmons with 1:18 to play. Embiid tried to take the lead at the basket against Reed, who grabbed the rebound off the miss and this time drew the foul on Embiid. Reed gave the Clippers a 101-100 edge off a free throw, but Dario Saric found Covington for three on the other end. Simmons grabbed a Williams miss and drained both his free throws after getting fouled. Austin Rivers reacted with his own trey and it was a one-point game with 11.9 seconds remaining. Covington sealed the win with four free throws in the final 10 seconds. 

• Time to update Embiid’s career notables. Embiid played a career-high 36 minutes (what minute restrictions?), grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, and scored a season-high 32 points. Covington also set a new career high with 31 points off only 12 field goal attempts. 

• Simmons continues to make double-doubles routine. He recorded his eighth of his rookie season with 22 points and 12 rebounds (see video). Simmons also put on a dunk spectacular throughout the night.

• Remember that note earlier about Williams being in a rhythm in the first? He more than doubled his scoring total in the fourth and finished the game with 31. Brett Brown couldn’t have been that surprised. Earlier in the day he said, "I’m a personal fan of Lou Williams. I just can’t believe he scores still like he scores. He really can score the ball." 

• JJ Redick, who played four seasons for the Clippers, faced his former team for the first time. He struggled on the familiar court, shooting 1 for 7 from three and 3 for 10 overall from the field (10 points). The Clippers thanked Redick with a tribute video in the first quarter. 

• Injury updates: Jerryd Bayless (left wrist), Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) remained sidelined for the Sixers. Jahlil Okafor (upper respiratory) also was ruled out. Patrick Beverley (right knee), Danilo Gallinari (left glute) and Milos Teodosic (left foot) were out for the Clippers. 

• Fultz (not in uniform) joined the Sixers on the court as they warmed up out of halftime. The team may have found an unofficial addition to the coaching staff as the rookie was rebounding and assisting on three-point drills after shootaround earlier in the day.

Sixers down 4 players tonight vs. Clippers

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers down 4 players tonight vs. Clippers

It looks like the Sixers (6-6) will be without four players tonight as they continue their road trip against the LA Clippers (5-7).

Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nik Stauskas (ankle) and Markelle Fultz (shoulder) have been ruled out. Jahlil Okafor is doubtful with an upper respiratory infection.

Bayless, who was re-evaluated Saturday, is also listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against the Lakers. 

Stauskas will be re-evaluated in 7 to 10 days.

This will be the ninth straight game Fultz has missed, the fourth in a row for Bayless and the third in a row for Stauskas.

Okafor has played just three minutes (at Utah) in the last 21 days.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.