Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook has become must-watch television.
In the national spotlight Saturday, the Sixers and Thunder put on one hell of a show at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). Paul George’s four-point play with 5.1 seconds remaining sealed a 117-115 win for Oklahoma City.
What happened with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter was at the height of the day’s entertainment.
Off a Sixers’ turnover, Westbrook took off in transition with Embiid waiting for him at the other end. Westbrook then lost the handle as he went up for the shot. As he was reaching to grab the ball, Embiid, who was attempting to block the shot, fell on top of Westbrook.
Westbrook was less than thrilled at the exchange.
I don’t think he just landed on me. He added a little extra to it. But it’s OK.
So everything is good between the two, right?
Westbrook doesn’t exactly have a warm and fuzzy relationship with the media, later telling a reporter, “Go home, bro,” when pressed further on his relationship with Embiid. Ben Simmons did a pretty good job on Westbrook, holding the perennial All-Star to 8 of 21 from the field.
Embiid, who finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists, didn’t see anything wrong with the play and wasn’t really sure what Westbrook’s problem was.
I don’t know why he was mad. I have no idea. But he’s always in his feelings, so I have no idea.
These two, of course, have a history dating back to last season.
It started on Dec. 15, 2017, during an epic triple-overtime game at the Wells Fargo Center. Embiid was able to get the better of big man Steven Adams. After Adams fouled out, Embiid waved to him as he was leaving the court — Embiid also waved after Westbrook fouled out Saturday.
After Oklahoma City got the win, Westbrook then waved to Embiid. Embiid went on to roast Westbrook postgame for shooting too much after the point guard went just 10 of 33 from the field.
In their next matchup a month later, Embiid posterized Westbrook and stared him down afterward.
The unfortunate thing for Embiid is that the Sixers just can’t seem to get the better of Westbrook. The team hasn’t beaten the Thunder in 11 years. That’s 19 straight games now.
Embiid was questionable again Saturday afternoon with a sore back. He was pretty clear as to why he wanted to play.
“Because the Sixers haven’t won against them in [11 years],” Embiid said. “That’s just ridiculous. I wanted to get the win. That’s one more reason that it pisses me off that we gave [the game] away and we had it.”
Embiid and the Sixers get another crack at Westbrook in Oklahoma City on Feb. 28. A good suggestion would be to get your popcorn ready.
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