Just when you thought Joel Embiid couldn’t possibly be any more dominant.
The Sixers knocked off the San Antonio Spurs 133-123 Monday night off a career game from Embiid.
The big fella went for a career-high 70 points, shooting 24-of-41 from the floor along with 18 rebounds and five assists for good measure.
Those 70 points are also a single-game franchise record.
Rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama was completely overmatched defensively, but still finished with 33 points on 10-of-19 shooting along with seven rebounds and two blocks.
Marcus Morris Sr. joined a laundry list of Sixers unable to suit up tonight due to various ailments.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- The Sixers were on their heels quick as the Spurs sunk their first four three-pointers of the game, prompting a timeout from Nick Nurse only a couple minutes into the game. San Antonio shot 7-of-13 from downtown in the opening quarter.
- While it didn’t take long for Wembanyama to make his impression on the offensive end, Embiid was still able to impose his own will. The rookie was sent to the bench with two fouls halfway through the quarter, and Embiid continued to punish Zach Collins in his replacement. Embiid scored 24 of the Sixers’ 34 points in the opening quarter.
- With the entire bench injured, the Sixers went back to Point Furkan to run the second unit. Even a team like the Spurs gave him a real hard time keeping the ball in his hands. Honestly how much worse could Terquavion Smith be? The Sixers trailed by one after a high-powered first quarter.
- Philly once again went into their bag of tricks to defend Wembanyama with Embiid on the bench. They stuck Tobias Harris on him, with Paul Reed guarding off so he could be a roamer. It didn’t do much of the way in stopping him, as Wemby scored on three of his first four touches of the quarter.
- Reed had a solid offensive stretch, though that is always going to be the case when one of his midrange jumpers manages to fall. He was also crashing the glass and ended his first half shift with four offensive rebounds.
Man Wemby is insane, pump fake and go for the dunk! pic.twitter.com/mUe39vSbcM— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) January 23, 2024
- Nurse must have felt he needed that rebounding, because he subbed Reed back into the game only a couple minutes after Embiid returned. The double-big minutes didn’t get off the best start, as Reed couldn’t corral a pass from Embiid in the dunker spot, then fouled Julian Champagnie for a four-point play.
- The Sixers’ offense could have had a better rhythm to it. They leaned a bit too much on isolations and had trouble with the zone the Spurs threw at them. Luckily for them, Embiid continued to score at a historic clip. He went into the break with 34 points on 20 shots, as the Sixers held a four-point lead at the half.
make it 2️⃣1️⃣ consecutive 30-point games for number 21. pic.twitter.com/8nL0VDSyG1— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 23, 2024
- The second half picked up right where the first left off, with the two big men battling each other. Embiid really began to lean on his weight advantage, going for deeper and deeper post position every time down the floor.
- Meanwhile Wembanyama took a page out of Embiid’s playbook, living at the free throw line. They took 14 free throws in the third quarter and seven of those were taken by Wemby. Two of those fouls were behind the three-point line as well — just poor awareness by the Sixers’ defense.
- Despite Embiid scoring at a truly absurd rate, his most impressive highlight of the night was a pass. He found a cutting Kelly Oubre Jr. down the baseline with a bounce pass as he was just turning around.
Eating buckets and serving up some delicious dishes too. pic.twitter.com/ZjRWOjS9UF— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 23, 2024
- Embiid’s scoring pace didn’t stop, and the Sixers finally put together a few stops on the other end to push their lead to double digits. They led by 15 at the end of the quarter when Embiid knocked down a three to put him at 59, matching his career high.
- At the start of the second, the Sixers ran a designed lob for KJ Martin, with Korkmaz setting a back screen to open him up on the baseline. Maxey found Martin for another lob at the start of the fourth that looked much less planned, but equally as impressive.
- There wasn’t much to say about Maxey through the first three quarters for obvious reasons, but he had a solid night and once again stepped up to start the fourth with Embiid on the bench. He had six points along with that assist before the big fella checked back in.
- Embiid had already gotten his career-high in points, but that didn’t stop the crowd from ruthlessly booing Danuel House Jr. for daring to take a shot. Embiid would continue to dominate, eventually recording his 70th point, a new Sixers franchise record.
- After the quick stop at home, the Sixers will head out for a five-game road trip. They’ll kick it off Wednesday night in Indiana to take on Pascal Siakam and the new-look Pacers at 7 p.m. ET.