With 3:04 left in the third quarter and the 76ers pulling away from the Wizards, Montrezl Harrell thought he’d drawn an offensive foul on Joel Embiid. It wasn’t called.
Harrell got up and wrapped up a charging Embiid, who stumbled after he lost the ball. He then turned to Harrell and immediately wrapped him up, as all 10 players on the floor converged on the two centers.
A common foul was assessed to Harrell and double technicals were dished out to both players involved. In the Wizards’ 117-96 loss at Capital One Arena, Harrell and Embiid’s scuffle proved to be the most exciting moment of the second half.
“I don’t know, you’ve got to ask the ref, man,” Harrell said when asked to explain what happened. “...He got his rebound, he got an and-one, and it’s cool you got an and-one, but he had it in my face. I ain’t one of them guys. It is what it is, I wouldn’t change it no differently from what I did, on either emphasis, both techs. I stand on both of them and I don’t feel I did nothing wrong.”
Just 30 seconds later, though, fireworks erupted again.
After Harrell threw down a dunk on the offensive end of the floor, Embiid went up strong and scored an and-one. As he celebrated (too close for comfort, Harrell thought), Harrell gave him a slight shove on the arm — which was enough for a second technical and an ejection.
“I don’t regret not one minute,” Harrell said of getting ejected. “At the end of the day, the double tech was called how it was supposed to be called. But if we’re going to nitpick about every little rule, taunting and all that, then let it go both ways. He got an and-one, he want to yell in my face and stuff like that, I pushed him out my face. That was the end of it.”
Embiid was physically dominant Sunday and tallied 36 points and 13 rebounds against a mismatched Wizards frontcourt. No matter who drew the assignment to stop Embiid, it was too tall of an order.
The issue for Harrell was his perception of Embiid’s taunting, and how that was done by Embiid.
“He was the one to step back and point, ‘Oh, oh, I got pushed!’ Stand on your toughness,” Harrell said. “If you’re so tough, stand on that, my dude. Don’t start nitpicking and pointing and wanting to do the telling when the ref walk in, my guy. Stand on that. I am, I got tossed, it is what it is. I wish it wouldn’t have been in the situation that it was in, but I don’t regret it.
Embiid said postgame that his goal was to get into the head of Harrell, a task he felt was well done once all was settled.
“I don’t want to take it back, it is what it is,” Harrell said. “I’m not going to change how I play for nobody. I’m not going to back down from nobody. I don’t care about none of that roo-rah talkin’. It’s talk, simple as that.”