All-Star Weekend | On Sport's Biggest Superstar Stage, Embiid Stands Out

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Recap:

Joel Embiid arrived in Los Angeles with a purpose, determined to prove himself worthy of his lofty status as an All-Star Game starter.

In an exciting, revamped 67th edition of the NBA’s annual superstar showcase, the 76ers' 7-footer certainly reaffirmed he can hang among the sport’s biggest names, putting up 19 points (8-13 fg, 2-4 3fg), 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in 20 minutes of action for Team Stephen.

Logging key minutes down the stretch, Embiid even made a legitimate push for All-Star MVP consideration, delivering a key basket and a tie-preserving block in the final two minutes of regulation.

He was removed from Sunday’s contest with 40.2 seconds to go and the score locked at 144-144. Before he checked back in with 10.7 seconds left, Team LeBron ripped off decisive driving lay-ups on back-to-back possessions to win the hard-fought, player-drafted exhibition, 148-145.

The first Sixer to start in an All-Star Game since Allen Iverson in 2006, Embiid admitted to feeling a little anxious prior to taking the floor Sunday at STAPLES Center, where he found himself in the company of champions, MVPs, and other league elites.

Once the ball was tipped, at no point did those nerves show. Embiid powered home the first bucket of the evening, and seemed to settle in from there.

Representing what was arguably Embiid’s most memorable All-Star sequence, the center splashed home a timely triple late in the first half to give Team Stephen a four-point lead, then raced down the court to play a cut off his greatest hits album - stuffing Russell Westbrook at the rim.

Embiid had 10 points and 6 boards by halftime, helping Team Stephen to a 78-76 lead. He went on to enjoy a quick, impactful start to the third quarter by depositing a dunk, and dialing up a 3-pointer that brought his captain to his feet.

After spending the latter stages of the third period and start of the fourth on the sideline, Embiid was called upon for crunch time, with just over four minutes on the clock. He netted a reverse lay-up that made it 140-137, which was followed shortly by a hook shot that provided Team Stephen with modest insurance, at 144-141.

Just how concerned with Embiid was Team LeBron? James himself took on the task of guarding him at times.

Embiid turned aside Paul George with an emphatic swat that kept the ledger even, 144-144, but Team LeBron had the final word during a crucial stretch with Embiid back on the bench.

Even in defeat, Embiid did more than hold his own Sunday, his performance providing the latest example of what those who watch him regularly already know: the 23-year old star is one that’s swiftly on the rise.

What They’re Saying:

Here are some of Joel Embiid’s reflections on his All-Star Game debut.

Up Next:

On the heels of representing the Sixers organization in fine form in Los Angeles during All-Star Weekend, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons will link back up later in the week with their teammates to get ready for a pivotal home stretch of the season. Focused on clinching a playoff berth since the start of training camp, the Sixers currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, with 27 games to play. Their first outing back from the All-Star break is Thursday, in Chicago.

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