Whicker: Lakers fall victim to Joel Embiid’s history lesson

first_img Joel Embiid, 76ers outshine Lakers in battle of rebuilding franchises Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr. reconnects with his Army pen pal 14 years later The Sixers are now 8-6 after losing 253 games in their previous four seasons. Much of that was intentional, but much of it was also due to Embiid’s inabiliity to overcome foot, back and knee injuries. He played 31 games last year and never on back-to-backs. In two games in three days at Staples Center, he turned in 70 minutes. The 76ers’ discretion has produced uncommon valor.“I love Staples Center,” Embiid said, grinning. “I wanted to come in here and put on a show, which I did. I hadn’t been aggressive, and I didn’t do very well against Golden State and their team defense. The Clippers (on Monday) didn’t double-team me until late in the game. Tonight I wanted to attack from the beginning.“They kept throwing me the ball and I kept finding new ways to score. I went to the free-throw line (16 for 19) and that’s what I was best at. Me going to the free-throw line, you know, guys really don’t know what to do after that.”Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersNobody has ever gotten 46-15-7-7 before, and Embiid also hit three 3-pointers, including one that made it 7-2 and activated every other weapon he has.He was a one-man battalion of drives from the wing, pump-and-go attacks from out front, outside shots, and post moves, including one rubber-band-man maneuver that seemed to take five minutes and drew oohs from the Sixers fans and resigned aahs from the Lakers crowd. If you saw it and thought Hakeem Olajuwon finally had a descendant, you were right.“I had been watching a little bit of Hakeem and I thought I’d try that move, that duck-under, shimmy-shimmy,” Embiid said. LOS ANGELES — It rhymes with indeed, or friend in need.The NBA has enough under-25 stars to fill up several red carpets. Maybe the league can loan Joel Embiid to the NFL, or some other distressed business that seeks a savior.On Wednesday night, in a building that has celebrated two NBA championships, two Stanley Cups, Adele and Taylor Swift, Embiid stapled a new page in league history. He also punched a hole in the Lakers, or at least in their delusions that they’re anywhere close to catching up to the times.Ordinarily you’d need a whole frontcourt to put together this numbers mosaic. Embiid, 23, had 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocked shots, seven assists and shot 14 for 20 for Philadelphia, which held off the Lakers 115-109. Although Embiid was drafted in 2014, with the third pick, this 46-pointer came in only his 43rd career game. If he keeps outscoring his experience, he might be something.“He’s just a beast, like I’ve been saying,” said Ben Simmons, the first overall pick in 2016 who missed all of last season with a foot injury and now teams with Embiid in what really could become the league’s most dynamic two-man game. Simmons had 18 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.“Yeah, and he (Embiid) took one of my rebounds,” Simmons said.“I did?” Embiid said. “Well, I wanted to get that triple-double with blocked shots, like (MIami’s) Hassan Whiteside. Don’t worry, Ben will get a lot of triple-doubles.”Simmons is 6-foot-10, gets the ball downcourt like a bullet train, sees everything, and needs only to sharpen his shot to become a future MVP candidate himself. You say an NBA champion needs 2½ superstars? Simmons and Embiid might add up to somewhere north of two.“I think we can make the playoffs,” Simmons said. “That’s been our goal all along.”“The fact that Joel played 70 minutes here in these two games is a great number,” said Brett Brown, the 76ers’ coach. “It’s a tribute to him and to our medical staff. He missed training camp and that set him back, and we were saying we wouldn’t see his best until Thanksgiving. Well, maybe Thanksgiving came early.”“Embiid is a heck of a player, sometimes you just tip your hat,” Lakers coach Luke Watlon said. “He was hitting 18-foot post-ups. When that happens he’s going to be a problem.”The Lakers took a 24-11 gut punch in the first 5½ minutes but never quit scrambling to catch up and, in fact, led 100-98 on Brandon Ingram’s jumper. They worked for 22 offensive rebounds and 27 second-chance points, and they persuaded Philadelphia into 16 turnovers.But they missed 24 of 27 3-point attempts, and Lonzo Ball rarely looked as if he belonged on this court. Again, he was benched in the fourth quarter and missed eight of nine shots, most of them by a lot.And when the Lakers needed organization and structure at the end of the game, it wasn’t there. Brown praised Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, likening them to Embiid and Simmons in the way the Lakers have “identified keepers, just like us.”But even if the Lakers had found cogent offense, they still needed to contest the uncontestable“Joel was just dominant,” Brown said. “We’re always trying to play with pace and movement. But sometimes we had to face a choice of playing with pace and movement or giving it to Joel Embiid. And giving it to Joel Embiid was the right choice tonight.”Indeed.last_img read more