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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Brilliant Embiid scores 70, Sixers down Spurs

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Los Angeles, United States—Joel Embiid became only the ninth player in NBA history to score 70 points or more in a single game as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 133-123 on Monday night (Tuesday morning in Manila).

A sensational individual performance from the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) led the way to victory for the Sixers and upstaged an impressive 33-point showing from Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama.


Embiid finished with 70 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists. He shot 24-of-41 from the field and made 21-of-23 free throws.

The Cameroonian star’s franchise-record effort vaulted him into an elite band of NBA stars, who have posted 70 or more points in a single game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, and Donovan Mitchell.

“It feels good,” Embiid said after the win, paying tribute to his “extremely unselfish” team mates. “I was hot and they just gave me the ball and made sure they put me in the best positions… Credit to the coaching staff, too. I’m just surrounded by amazing people.”

Tyrese Maxey added 18 points for the Sixers, while Tobias Harris finished with 14—the only other Philadelphia players to crack double figures. Sixers coach Nick Nurse said the seven-foot (2.13m) tall Embiid’s combination of size and skill made him nearly unguardable.

“He can score in so many ways,” Nurse said. “His sheer size gets him a lot of stuff around the basket and a lot of free throws… And his shooting touch is the skill that makes it extra hard to stop him. When he gets motivated like that, anything can happen.”

Wembanyama, the highly rated No.1 draft pick from France, produced one of his best performances of the season in a losing effort for San Antonio. The Spurs remain at the bottom of the Western Conference with a record of eight wins and 35 losses.

Attack, dominate

Embiid lavished praise on the Frenchman, but would not say if facing up against the highly rated rookie had given him additional motivation.

“The big fella, he’s amazing, he’s great,” Embiid said of Wembanyama. “In my opinion he’s already up there as one of the best players in the league. Obviously, a bright future.”

Asked whether Wembanyama had fueled his 70-point display, Embiid said: “It doesn’t matter who’s in the building. That’s my mindset—attack, dominate, offensively and defensively. Tonight was no different.”

Embiid’s masterpiece propelled Philadelphia to a sixth straight victory, leaving them third in the Eastern Conference behind Boston and Milwaukee on 29-13.

San Antonio’s revered coach Gregg Popovich, meanwhile, saluted Embiid’s virtuoso performance. “He’s a fantastic player,” Popovich said. “He’s wonderful—he’s playing such an all-round game.”

Embiid’s 70-point was not the only eye-catching individual performance around the NBA on Monday.

In Charlotte, Minnesota Timberwolves stalwart Karl-Anthony Towns erupted for 62 points in his team’s 128-125 loss to the Hornets.

Towns’ performance included 10 three-pointers, but it was not enough to prevent Charlotte snatching a notable win against the Western Conference leaders.

Miles Bridges led Charlotte, scoring with 28 points, followed by Brandon Miller with 27.

In Detroit, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 31 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Milwaukee Bucks notched a 122-113 victory over the Pistons.

In Dallas, 38 points from Jayson Tatum and a 35-point haul from Jaylen Brown earned the Boston Celtics a 119-110 win over Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. Doncic finished with 33 points while Kyrie Irving added 23 in a losing effort for Dallas.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, clinched a wire-to-wire win over the Orlando Magic in Florida with a 126-99 victory. Donovan Mitchell finished with 25 points for the Cavs, but was upstaged by Sam Merrill, who scored 26 off the bench, including eight three-pointers.

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