After expressing uncertainty about whether he’d play in this season's NBA All-Star Game, Joel Embiid ultimately suited up Sunday night in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Last year's scoring champion got picked first among the starters by the league’s all-time top scorer, too.
Embiid posted 32 points on 14-for-19 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists in Team LeBron's 184-175 loss to Team Giannis.
Jayson Tatum scored an All-Star record 55 points, knocked down 10 of his 18 three-point tries, and earned MVP honors.
The All-Star draft provided perhaps the night's best drama. Captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo first selected the reserves. James then grabbed Embiid as his first starter before picking Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic.
Neither team captain had a full night on the floor. Antetokounmpo technically started, but he subbed out after just 20 seconds instead of playing through a right wrist injury. James, a 19-time All-Star, only played the first half. After recording 13 points and four assists, the 38-year-old was officially ruled out with a right hand contusion. He hit his hand on the rim going for a block.
Embiid had initially missed out on a starting spot, but he ended up replacing the injured Kevin Durant. Following the Sixers' win Wednesday over the Cavs, Embiid indicated he might sit the All-Star Game out because of a persistent left foot issue.
“That’s not where my focus is," he said. “My focus is on getting healthy. I haven’t been healthy. I’ve been having this lingering foot issue, according to the doctors, which needs a lot of rest and staying off my feet. ... I’m focused on winning a championship and whatever helps me get there healthy, that’s what I’m going to do. We’re going to see how it goes. Obviously, like the doctor said, I just need rest and to stay off my feet. So we’re going to see.”
The Sixers' six-time All-Star big man teamed up early Sunday night with Jokic on an alley-oop.
The game was very low on defensive effort and high on uncontested jumpers. Tatum and Jaylen Brown added a bit of juice late in the third quarter when the Celtics teammates went head to head and traded baskets.
Sixers two-way player Mac McClung's dunk contest win the night before arguably packed much more entertainment into a far shorter timeframe.
The first post-All-Star game for Embiid and the 38-19 Sixers will be Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Grizzlies. They'll look to extend their winning streak to five games against a 35-22 Memphis team that features All-Stars Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.