Game Recap | Embiid's Excellence at Line Helps Deliver OT Victory
In the waning seconds of a marathon, whistle-filled, overtime game, the 7-footer - appropriately sporting his fresh, sweat-soaked, ‘Rocky’ and ‘Creed’ - inspired Nike City Edition uniform - toed the free throw line, with chants of ‘M-V-P’ reigning down all round him.
There is no doubt how important Joel Embiid is to the 76ers (8-5), and Friday, against the Charlotte Hornets (6-6), they needed every bit of him.
As he has made a habit of doing at the start of the year, the All-Star went about his business dominantly. He hit his shots with a high degree of efficiency, rebounded the basketball, clogged the paint, and protected the rim.
But most important to the Sixers’ resilient 133-132 victory at The Center, Embiid not only got to the stripe. He hit his free throws, too.
Of the big man’s 42 points, a career-high 19 came from the stripe. Between the fourth quarter and overtime alone, he went a combined 14 for 16 on foul shots.
For Embiid, it was a matter of living up to expectations.
“Got to make them,” Embiid said of his late-game free throws. “They call me clutch for a reason, so I got to make them.”
Needless to say, without Embiid’s massive contributions, Friday’s two-hour, 50-minute affair could have easily gone the other way, despite the fact that, at one point, a win almost felt certain.
Almost, of course, the operative word.
With Embiid and Ben Simmons (22 pts, 13 ast, 8 reb) using a flurry of drives and dunks to launch a relentless attack on the basket, the Sixers opened things up to the tune of a 21-point lead midway through the third frame.
From there, Charlotte dug in, and wound up outscoring the Sixers 51-34 through the end of the fourth quarter. A slew of free throws and Kemba Walker catching fire were big parts of the Hornets’ turnaround.
Walker, an All-Star and the no. 2 scorer in the NBA, netted 22 of his 30 points following the third quarter. His 3-pointer with 75 seconds left in the fourth gave the Hornets a 117-112 edge, but Embiid, the league’s third-leading scorer, kept coming.
He nailed a 3-pointer to tie Friday’s game at 117-117, then hit a pair of free throws with 25.9 seconds to go in the fourth to prompt overtime.
“It was great,” said Simmons, when asked about Embiid’s efforts. “He got to the free throw line a lot, knocked down his free throws. He was a big inside presence.”
In all, Embiid posted 21 of his points after the third quarter.
Simmons stepped up with timely deposits of his own, including a scoop lay-up in OT that made it 131-127.
Embiid, however, was the lasting impression.
“He responded all over the place,” Brett Brown said.
About Those Free Throws
Joel Embiid took the floor Friday leading the NBA in both free throws made, and attempted.
Nothing that happened in the Sixers’ ensuing overtime game against the Charlotte Hornets changed that.
Upon the conclusion of the contest, Embiid had upped his free throw percentage to a whopping 81.8 percent - a terrific number for a player of his size and style of play, and also for someone who shoots foul shots at the volume the 2014 no. 3 pick does.
“It’s hard keeping him off the free throw line just because he’s so physical,” Charlotte center Cody Zeller said. “He can shoot it from three, play of the dribble, obviously a wide body in the post, so he’s the toughest guy to defend. He can play every spot on the court.”
“He’s a really good shooter, and he’s confident by nature,” Brett Brown said of Embiid. “That’s a pretty good collision of skill and mind. He’s not afraid of the moment.”
That definitely appeared to be true in Friday’s tilt.
“I can use power, I can use finesse,” said Embiid, when asked about getting to the foul line. “I’m starting to feel comfortable.”
Wins, Not Style Points, Matter Most
Brett Brown knows the Sixers had opportunities to put Friday’s game away. They didn’t, though, and things got interesting.
“We found a way to win,” said the sixth-year head coach. “That’s sort of the simplest way you can say it.”
The path to a second straight victory, and fourth in five games, though, was far from simple.
After an auspicious start, the Sixers were forced to overcome a five-point deficit to Charlotte with one and a half minutes remaining.
“The guys did well, but to be in that position, after holding a 21-point lead, you leave here happy for sure fo the win,” Brown said. “We’re doing some good things, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Honoring and Helping Local Military Service Women and Men
Friday’s game marked the Sixers’ annual Military Appreciation Night, presented by Toyota.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 10, 2018
In attendance on behalf of Toyota was Patrick Murphy, an Iraqi war veteran and former two-term United States congressman.
The 45-year old Murphy is currently an ambassador for the Hiring Our Heroes program, which in 2011 was founded to help military veterans and their spouses find job placement.
Prior to Friday’s tip, he participated in a career workshop hosted by the Sixers and Toyota.
“Partnering with Toyota and the 76ers, and other organizations across the country, we want to help get our military heroes and their spouses hired to make sure they continue to live a purposeful life back in our communities,” said Murphy, who was raised in the Northeast.
Service dog recruits honored with a ceremonial pin at Military Appreciation Night, presented by @Toyota.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 9, 2018
“The whole team with the 76ers, they really aren’t just military friendly, they are passionate about our military community. It’s so great to see. That’s why when they asked to be here tonight, I would do anything for them.”
‘Gram of the Game:
Along with the ‘Rocky’ films, the ‘Creed’ spinoff series helped inspire this season’s Nike City Edition uniforms. Only fitting that a bunch of the stars of the newest flick, due out November 21st, were on hand for the debut of the jerseys.
To close out their third back-to-back in the last two weeks, the Sixers will head to the Grind House in Memphis for a Saturday evening pairing with the Grizzlies. Things have been going well for Memphis, which has won six of its first 10 games, and is tied with the San Antonio Spurs for first place in the Southwest Division. Through a slew of injuries, the Grizz managed only 22 wins a season ago, matching the second-lowest total in franchise history.