Montrezl Harrell was tossed as Joel Embiid led from the front in a big 117-96 win for the Philadelphia 76ers over the Washington Wizards.
Philadelphia had lost three of its past four games, with the last-start defeat to an undermanned Atlanta Hawks side the most concerning of the lot.
The Sixers were much-improved on Monday, with Embiid putting up 36 points on 12-for-17 shooting and 13 rebounds.
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Saturday January 15th
Both sides were hit hard by the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols with the Sixers missing Danny Green, Andre Drummond and Shake Milton while Bradley Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Raul Neto were sidelined for Washington.
Embiid made a quick start as he scored Philadelphia’s first eight points before Harrell helped swing the momentum back in Washington’s favour.
The Wizards finished the first quarter up 31-25 before Embiid’s teammates stepped up to support the franchise superstar as the Sixers took a 63-55 lead into the break.
Harrell was still in the game at that point but clashed with Embiid in the third, seeing each pick up a technical foul.
It took just 30 seconds for Harrell to find himself in trouble again, shoving Embiid after the Sixers big man converted an and-one layup.
It saw Harrell tossed from the game and it all went downhill from there for the Wizards, who were already well behind at that point.
Embiid was not finished there, taunting his replacement Daniel Gafford and begging him to shoot 3-pointers for the remainder of the game.
Harrell left the game with 15 points, three assists and four rebounds, with Kyle Kuzma (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Spencer Dinwiddie (17 points, six assists) leading the way alongside him.
Tobias Harris (23 points, three assists, seven rebounds) played a crucial role alongside Embiid and had an efficient shooting night (10-of-16 FG).
GIDDEY’S ‘BIZARRE’ 50-YEAR FIRST AFTER ANOTHER DOUBLE-DOUBLE
Josh Giddey is not even a year into his NBA career but the 19-year-old is already breaking several records.
From putting up 100 points and 100 rebounds in just 20 starts to becoming the second-youngest player in NBA history behind LeBron James to post 10 assists in a single game.
Giddey has rarely looked fazed and proven himself a key piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s future.
The Australian had his name written in the record books once again after Monday’s 117-112 win over the New Orleans Pelicans but this time around for a stranger reason.
Giddey had yet another double-double, the third in his past five games, but this one was very different as he put up 10 rebounds and 10 assists but failed to score a single point.
It saw Giddey become just the second player in NBA history to achieve such a feat, with Norm Van Lier the last to do so back in 1971 — 50 years ago.
Giddey had an off shooting night, going 0-for-8 from the floor.
It would hardly be of concern to Oklahoma City given Giddey has put up 50 points in his last three games.
In fact, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said it was actually a good lesson for Giddey.
“It’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows,” he said, adding he thought Giddey was frustrated by the shooting slump.
Plus, Giddey has always been a pass-first guard, more inclined to create opportunities to let his teammates shine.
He did just that on Monday with 10 assists while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the scoring with 31 points.
Aaron Wiggins put up a career-high 24 points on 10 shots along with six rebounds while Jeremiah Robinson-Junior, who was taken 32nd overall in the Draft, continues to impress.
He had 15 points and seven rebounds in the win.
Wiggins prasied Giddey-post game, telling reporters: “Regardless of his scoring or anything like that, he’s contributing in other aspects of the game”.
“Giddey was amazing he found me a couple different times.”
Brandon Ingram was the only one of New Orleans’ starters not to finish with 10 points or more, leaving the game after nine minutes with left Achilles sorenesss.
CAVALIERS BREEZE PAST DEPLETED RAPTORS
Speaking of Philadelphia, the Cleveland Cavaliers were named on Sunday as a “team to watch” in the Ben Simmons trade sweepstakes.
The Cavaliers have been one of the surprise packets of the 2021-22 season and continued their stunning rise with a 144-99 win over the Toronto Raptors.
It was a team effort with all five starters putting up 16 points or more in the victory.
Kevin Love and Darius Garland led the way with 22 points each while Yuta Watanabe topscored for the Raptors with a career-high 26-point haul alongside 13 rebounds.
What made Watanabe’s effort even more incredible was the fact he did it having only met his replacement teammates for the first time on the bus to the arena.
“We met the new guys on the bus,” he said.
“And usually we before the game we go through the other teams clips. Today we went through our clips. So that was different.”
The Raptors fielded eight players on Monday who combined for 750 games of NBA experience and just four came from the regular roster.
Toronto was without its top seven leading scorers, with Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch, Isaac Bonga, Justin Champagnie, and Malachi Flynn all sidelined due to Covid-19 protocols.
David Johnson (left calf strain) and Goran Dragic (not with the team) were also out.
Cleveland was not without its own disruptions, missing Jarrett Allen, Mobley, R.J. Nembhard Jr., Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, and Dylan Windler (Covid protocols).
Collin Sexton, of course, remained sidelined too with a torn meniscus.
JIMMY BUTLER MAKES TIMELY RETURN IN HEAT WIN
Jimmy Butler returned from an eight-game injury absence to post a double-double in the Miami Heat’s 93-83 NBA victory over the Orlando Magic.
Butler, who was sidelined with a bruised tailbone, scored 17 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, handing out four assists and coming up with three steals.
His return from an injury that has seen him miss 15 games this season couldn’t have been more timely after Miami guard Kyle Lowry joined the parade of NBA players sidelined by Covid-19 concerns.
Miami were also without regular starters Bam Adebayo and P.J. Tucker.
Orlando were even more short-handed and the teams reached halftime with Miami holding a slim 42.39 lead, despite connecting on just 37.8 percent of their shots from the field.
Six three-pointers in a 30-point third quarter helped the Heat pull away. They led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter.
Caleb Martin scored 17 points for Miami, while Omer Yurtseven scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in his first start at center because of the injuries to Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon.
Coping with inevitable injuries has become more problematic for all teams amid the wave of coronavirus cases in the league that mirror the rise of the Omicron variant in the United States.
The Magic had six players in the league’s Covid protocols on Sunday, with another player cleared to return but still absent because of conditioning issues. Another six players were out with injuries.
“You expect the unexpected,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said.
GRIZZLIES SHAKE OFF SLOW START
The Memphis Grizzlies, who lost Dillon Brooks and two other players to Covid concerns, shook off a slow start against the Kings in Sacramento to triumph 127-102.
Desmond Bane led Memphis with 28 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. added 21 and Ja Morant chipped in 18 for Memphis, who used a 40-point third quarter to take control of the contest.
Tyrese Haliburton scored 18 points for the Kings, while De’Aaron Fox added 12 in his return from Covid protocols.
OTHER NBA SCORES
SPURS 144 PISTONS 109
BULLS 113 PACERS 105
CLIPPERS 100 NUGGETS 103