A few days after bravely labeling himself as “the best player in the world”, Joel Embiid, the center of the Philadelphia 76ers, scored the best career performance on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.
Embiid thrived in the 2019/20 NBA season, averaging 23.8 points, 12 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game – however, it is difficult to argue that he is the “best” basketball player with James Harden and LeBron James still in action.
After Sixers ‘victory over the Brooklyn Nets’ 112-104 on Friday – where Embiid lost 39 points – Cameroon discussed its impact on the All-Star game.
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“The All-Star game was fun. Being there in the fourth quarter, doing my thing at the end of the game, I thought it was great, “Embiid told ESPN.
“But the All-Star game, just by showing that I’m here, I belong, and being the best player in the world, I just intend to keep going out every night and playing hard and trying to get victories and go out and try to win a championship.”
Although he was widely condemned for the comments, Embiid quickly proved that his critics were wrong, scoring the 49 best career points against the Hawks in Philadelphia, encouraging viewers to sing “MVP” in the last quarter. His previous precedent was 46 against the Los Angeles Lakers in November 2017.
Embiid made 14 of the 15 free throws and 17 of the 24 throws from the ground. He led the Sixers to a 129-112 victory, supporting his stellar shooting performance with 14 rebounds and three assists.
Embiid’s 49 points are the pinnacle of a Sixers starting point since Moses Malone managed 51 in 1984.
“I said that I would go back to having fun. Having fun comes in different forms, “said Embiid after the game.
“I don’t always have to smile or laugh constantly; I enjoy dominating the game. Obviously tonight was just one of those nights where I had fun like in the old days, having fun only with the crowd. Some evenings I might want to dominate and shut up, but it is been nice.
“The most important thing is that we went back and got the win.”
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown had nothing but praise for the “impressive” 25-year-old powerhouse, which he called the three-time NBA All-Star “dominant”.
“He was dominant by making his free throws, he was dominant in his inner presence, signaling that the volume of points at that efficient pace is impressive,” said Brown.
Rising star Trae Young scored 28 points for the Hawks – despite nine of the 11 three-point shots missing – while strikers De’Andre Hunter and John Collins contributed 22 and 21 respectively. Young described Embiid as “super good” after the match.
“To be honest, he’s probably the best in our league,” said Young.
“Super expert, super strong – when he’s in attack mode, it’s difficult to protect him.”
After falling 21 in the first half, the Hawks passed Philadelphia 23-9 to start the third quarter. They ended the period with an 8-0 run and took a 92-91 lead in fourth place after Young finally scored a triple.
However, the hosts overtook Atlanta 38-20 in the last quarter to secure their 27th home win of the season.
The Sixers were starless Ben Simmons on Tuesday, but Brown didn’t speculate about the injury or wasn’t sure how long the Australian would be sidelined.
“I don’t know. It’s really a bit, like, how long does a piece of rope last? Who knows? Who knows?” Brown said.
“Whatever the time equals days, games, periods of time, then we can speak more honestly when this thing runs out. But as it is now, this is how I see the world “.
Simmons played just five minutes during Sixers’ defeat in Milwaukee on Saturday and requested tests after the game.
On Thursday the Sixers will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game away from home.