LOS ANGELES — In a much-hyped matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night lived up to the billing as Joel Embiid shined with a career-best performance in a 115-109 win.
It was a back-and-forth contest that featured the young promising talent on both sides putting up strong outings with Embiid leading the way with a historic performance notching a career-best night finishing while flirting with a near quadruple-double with 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and seven blocks.
Los Angeles struggled to find an answer all night defensively to limit Embiid, who registered his first 40 point outing of his young career on Wednesday night. In fact, it was the most points by a 76ers player since Allen Iverson scored 45 against the Miami Heat back in 2006.
“I was just being aggressive and playing basketball like I was against the Clippers,” Embiid said. “I got going and I just wanted to say aggressive. That’s my new mentality. I can’t wait to keep the same momentum. I love LA and I love the Staples Center. I wanted to come out here and put on a show and I did.”
Embiid was also the first NBA player to notch 40 or more points, seven or more assists, and seven or more blocks in a game since Hall of Famer Julius Erving back in 1982.
“Embiid is a man down there and you get a nice whistle its even harder to handle,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “You got to tip your hat. He’s a heck of a player. He’s a problem.”
It was a performance from Embiid that didn’t catch rookie point guard Ben Simmons by surprise one bit.
“He’s a beast,” said Simmons, who had a near triple-double with 18 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and five steals. “He’s been doing really well [and] he’s been getting better every game. We’re getting better playing together.”
A slow start out of the gate for the Lakers put them in an 18-7 hole but was able to recollect themselves with the second unit cutting the deficit to just 29-26 heading into the second quarter.
Thet second quarter featured much more back-and-forth action as the Lakers grabbed a 30-29 lead, which was followed by a 15-2 run by the 76ers to take a commanding double-digit margin. However, Los Angeles battled back behind 25 combined first-half points between Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma to close the gap to 58-54 at the half despite the team shooting 34.5 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from 3-point range.
Things remained close throughout the second half with neither team stretch the lead more than single digits with Los Angeles taking an 84-83 lead into the final period after a 12-3 run to end to the end third quarter. However, Embiid proved to be too much to handle pouring in 28 points in the second half alone on 9-of-12 shooting including 9-of-11 from the free throw line with 19 of that coming in the fourth quarter to pull away.
“Joel Embiid killed us. He had about 50 points,” Kuzma said, who had a career-high 24 points in the loss.”Anytime anybody gets going like that and they give him the ball we couldn’t guard him.”
In the loss, Ingram also had a career night with his third double-double of the season with career highs with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson had 20 points off the bench to lead all reserves.
Bob Garcia IV
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