Joel Embiid scores 39, dominates Andre Drummond leading Sixers past Pistons
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia star big man Joel Embiid revels in the chances to go against Detroit center Andre Drummond. And Embiid doesn’t stop going at Drummond when the game is over.
Embiid scored 32 of his 39 points in a dominating first half and had 17 rebounds and then let Drummond know about it afterward, leading the 76ers to a 109-99 victory over the Pistons on Saturday.
Embiid made 10 of 18 field goals and 18 of 23 free throws to help Philadelphia improve to 6-0 at home.
Drummond and Embiid have butted heads throughout their careers, with Embiid recently saying he “owns real estate” in Drummond’s head after Detroit’s big man was ejected in the Pistons’ 133-132 overtime victory on Oct. 23.
“He’s a fun matchup,” Embiid said. “I feel like I dominate every game, especially against him.”
Pistons coach Dwane Casey and Drummond questioned the officiating. Drummond and backup center Zaza Pachulia were in foul trouble early trying to guard Embiid, and the teams combined for 63 fouls and 92 free-throw attempts.
“I don’t understand how the game was being called,” Casey said.
Said Drummond, “It’s like you have to play with your hands behind your back; you can’t really touch nobody. That’s the way they’re calling the game right now. I have to figure a way to adjust. It’s hard to play like that.”
Embiid’s first-half numbers were astounding. He made 8 of 9 shots, including his only 3-point attempt, and 15 of 17 free-throw attempts with eight rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes in a one-sided duel with Drummond.
Drummond went scoreless in four foul-plagued minutes in the opening half and finished with eight points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes.
Embiid went right at Drummond early on Saturday, drawing a foul just 1:24 into the contest and then a second on Drummond 1:16 later. The Philadelphia big man held up two fingers after that one, letting everyone know Drummond had picked up his second, and Drummond exited to the bench for Pachulia.
Pachulia was no match for Embiid either, drawing four fouls in 10 first-half minutes.
The 76ers’ lead grew to as many as 24 points, 58-34, when rookie Landry Shamet converted a three-point play after draining a 13-foot jumper and the ensuing free throw.
The Pistons scored the first 13 points of the second half over 3:55 as Philadelphia went 0-for-5 with three turnovers to start the third period. That surge cut Detroit’s deficit to nine, 69-60, but the 76ers’ advantage built up in the opening 24 minutes proved to be too great.
Detroit got as close as down five with 4:48 remaining before an Embiid layup and J.J. Redick 3-pointer pushed the lead to a comfortable 10 points.