About Last Night

About Last Night: Embiid's reign of destruction continues

Take heart, Andre Drummond.

You aren’t the only one Joel Embiid enjoys tormenting.

The 76ers All-Star took his latest wrecking ball to the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside on Monday with 35 points and 18 rebounds as the 76ers triumphed 124-114. Per usual, he took great delight in his opponent’s misery.

It marked Embiid’s 14th double-double in 15 games, the best start to an NBA season by a Philadelphia player since Moses Malone went 57 for 58 in 1982-83. (Editorial aside: Holy wow.) It was also the first 35-18 game by a Sixer since Charles Barkley in December of 1990.

The outburst pushed Embiid’s season averages up to a robust 28.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, good enough for second and sixth in the NBA, respectively.

In terms of raw totals, Embiid sits at 423 points and 201 rebounds through 15 games. He is the first player to hit those totals since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000, and only the fourth since the NBA-ABA merger in 1967-77. (Malone, in 1980-81, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in 1976-77, are the others.)

Put all that together, and we could be looking at the very early stages of a legitimate Kia MVP run from Embiid, especially if the addition of Jimmy Butler can elevate the 76ers among the NBA’s elite teams.

”I will admit,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said, ”when I come back and I see the stat sheet, I’m shocked at how dominating at times he is.”

Statement game?

Embiid wasn’t the only center to dominate on Monday. Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns overpowered the Nets for 25 points and 21 rebounds in his first game since news broke that Butler had finally been traded. (And also 10 turnovers, but hey, nobody’s perfect.)

It followed a monster 39-point, 19-rebound outing against the Kings on Friday. That brought his two-game totals to 64 points and 40 rebounds — thresholds reached previously over that span by only Anthony Davis and Zach Randolph over the past 20 years.

Legendary moment

Michael Jordan gave us “The Shrug.” Dikembe Mutombo had “The Wag.”

Monday brought us another seminal moment in NBA history: Headband Joe.

Whatever cute nickname you like, it came courtesy of Australian sharpshooter Joe Ingles late in Utah’s 96-88 road victory over the Grizzlies.

Per Deseret News reporter Eric Woodyard, Ingles was forced to the bench late in the fourth quarter with blood “dripping” down his face from a cut over his eye. (This led to a fun entry in the official play-by-play: Stoppage, Blood Rule.)

Head bandaged, looking more like a combat casualty than an NBA player, Ingles not only remained in the game but served up an alley-oop for Rudy Gobert before drilling a dagger 3-pointer with 45.4 seconds left.

Full credit to the Jazz social media crew, which was quick to capitalize on Ingles’ pluck:

Heart breaker

The tears welling in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s eyes pretty much said it all in regards to the horrific leg injury suffered by Nets guard Caris LeVert in Minneapolis.

Not only did it interrupt one of the NBA’s better young careers, it will sideline a player the Nets obviously like just as much off the court, if not more, than they do on it. And given the fact he was averaging 19 points per game, they like him a lot.

As reported by ESPN, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson called LeVert “the heart and soul of our program.”

“I just know that if anybody is coming back from this — the human, the character, the person, the player — he’ll come back from this,” Atkinson said. “But a tough, tough blow for the Nets. Our only thoughts are with him. Nothing else matters. The game doesn’t matter tonight.”

Added teammate Joe Harris: “There was really just no words. We didn’t talk even when we came in at halftime. There was nothing to be said. Guys were crying. It was really that horrific just to see.”

Amazingly, and not in a good way, it marks the third such gruesome injury Derrick Rose has witnessed in person, having previously been on the court when Paul George and Gordon Hayward were hurt in similar fashion.

“It’s always terrible to see something like that,” Rose said. “It kind of messes you up in a way.”

Golden State drama

There’s always going to be a certain amount of tension around the Warriors thanks to Draymond Green’s white-hot competitive fire. And sometimes that tension will erupt into open conflict.

Such was the case at Staples Center, where Kevin Durant was left fuming after Green made the ill-advised decision to keep the ball following a critical stop and the score tied in the final seconds of regulation. Despite Durant’s pleading, Green dribbled the length of the court for a would-be last shot… and promptly lost control of the ball as time expired.

That led to an angry exchange on the bench before Durant fouled out in OT — he finished with 33 points to Green’s six — and the Warriors wilted late in a 121-116 defeat.


Warriors coach Steve Kerr took the blame for Green’s miscue, saying he should have called timeout. And Shaun Livingston chalked up the disagreement to competitive spirit.

But Durant was apparently still upset enough that he left the locker room without speaking to reporters.

Eat your words

Almost a week after he picked a verbal squabble with John Wall over the Wizards All-Star’s perceived lack of dedication, ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith was reportedly front and center in D.C. for Monday’s game with the Magic.

While he denied that Smith’s presence motivated him — specific quote: “Nah” — Wall’s teammates weren’t so sure after he piled up 25 points and 10 assists to lead the Wizards past the Magic, 117-109.

“Y’all pissed him off, man,” said Bradley Beal, lumping the entire media in with Smith. “It’s y’all’s fault. I’m happy you guys lit a little flame up under him. He got us all going.”

Not that much gloating is in order. Even with their first two-game win streak of the season, the Wizards are still just 4-9.

Quote of the night

“I’m really impressed. The culture is changing and it’s changing drastically.” — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after the Kings snapped their 14-game losing streak to San Antonio, improving to 8-6 in the process.

Toe to toe

Let it be known that Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell backs down from no man. Not even Draymond Green.

Lovin’ it

May all of us enjoy anything as much Kyle Lowry digs pregame intros.

Your nightly Zach LaVine highlight

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