Joel Embiid had a career performance when the 76ers beat the Lakers, 115-109, on Nov. 15 in Los Angeles.
The 76ers center is confident that he can duplicate that performance when the Lakers visit the Sixers in Thursday’s 8 p.m. game at the Wells Fargo Center.
“As long as they feed me, I have a pretty good chance,” Embiid said following Wednesday’s practice.
In the first meeting, Embiid had career highs of 46 points, seven assists and seven blocked shots. He also finished with 15 rebounds. Embiid shot 14 for 20 for the field, 2 of 3 from three-point range and 16 for 19 from the foul line.
“It was a weird game, it was a pretty close game,” Embiid recalled. “I scored the ball the way I did, but I guess we have to do a better job defensively. They got too many offensive rebounds and we have to do a better job of boxing out and limiting turnovers.”
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) December 6, 2017
The Lakers had 22 offensive rebounds in that game, compared to eight for the Sixers. In addition, the Sixers had 16 turnovers while the Lakers had nine.
Sixers coach Brett Brown and Embiid say they expect the Lakers to defend Embiid differently, not allowing him as many open looks, likely throwing more double-teams.
Brown is more concerned about the Sixers (13-10) bouncing back from Monday’s 115-101 home loss to the Phoenix Suns (9-17). The Sixers take on a Lakers team that is 8-15 and has lost five in a row.
“Life in the NBA is made up of respect and being able to play as many as the 48 minutes and as many of the 82 games, whether you are the Golden State Warriors or the Philadelphia 76ers, as you can,” Brown said. “We are not going to click our heels and decide to play.”
So the message is that regardless how improved the Sixers are, they just can’t win by rolling out the balls.
As for Embiid, he says he is still getting comfortable in the offense. He is averaging 23 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 29.9 minutes. One can only imagine what will happen when he truly feels comfortable.
“I want to be a complete player instead of just a post player,” Embiid said. “I am still getting comfortable.”
— Sixers forward Dario Saric was being evaluated after suffering a laceration of the left eye during practice. He also was hit in the right eye. Brown said Saric took three stitches and the coach said he didn’t know if he would be available against the Lakers.
— Point guard T.J. McConnell, who missed the previous three games with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, had limited basketball activity on Wednesday and is listed as questionable for the Lakers game. “He didn’t do too much,” Brown said.
— Swingman Justin Anderson (shin splints) is out for the Lakers game.
— Markelle Fultz, who has played in just four games due to right shoulder soreness/scapular muscle imbalance, returned to the Sixers’ training facility. He has been working out and rehabbing in Kentucky. His targeted return date to game action is still unknown. “His activity was minimal,” Brown said of the rookie guard who was the No. 1 overall draft pick. “We were happy to have him back. It felt like I haven’t seen him in a long time, so it was good just to have him around.”
— Embiid on being presented Sports Illustrated’s Rising Star of the Year award: “I am blessed to be in this position and really thankful for all the support I have gotten since I got to the league from my family, the fans, the Sixers organization [and] God.”