PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid once had to spike his dad’s wish for him to become a volleyball player. With his father making a rare trip to Philly, Embiid showed once again he was wise to ditch digs for dunks.
Embiid put on a show with his father in the stands for the first time this season, collecting 26 points and 14 rebounds while leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 117-91 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
“Embiid was doing some damage in the post,” Knicks rookie Kevin Knox said.
Embiid’s spin move into a one-handed jam earned a smile and applause from Thomas Embiid, a colonel in the Cameroon military who is visiting from the family’s home country and plans to spend a few weeks with his MVP candidate son. Growing up, Embiid had to convince his father that basketball wasn’t a dangerous game and he didn’t have to abide by Thomas’ wishes of becoming an elite volleyball player.
The 7-footer had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the first half alone. He finished with his NBA-best 21st double-double and helped the Sixers improve to 11-1 at home.
He didn’t stick around to offer his usual quips and one-liners to the media — Embiid split to catch up with his family.
Philly’s last home game was a rare disaster, a 121-112 loss to woeful Cleveland on Friday. Coach Brett Brown said the Sixers didn’t play with spirit against the Cavs. They played with purpose against the road-weary Knicks.
JJ Redick hit four 3s and scored 24 points and Ben Simmons had 14 points. Jimmy Butler hit a 3 in the third to make it 86-58 and give the Sixers a KO victory with former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins sitting courtside.
Redick made 10 of 14 shots and hit the 20-point mark for the third time in five games.
“I always feel like when I shoot the ball it’s going to go in, but there’s a different feeling I think when you haven’t missed and you’ve taken a few shots and you just keep seeing the ball go in,” he said. “It certainly increases the dopamine levels in your brain.”
Enes Kanter and Mario Hezonja each scored 17 points for New York. The Knicks have played nine of 12 games on the road and were coming off a 115-108 loss to Detroit on Tuesday.
“We didn’t have an answer for any of them,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “That was a focused team, they came out with really good focus. We just got blitzed and we really didn’t have an answer for anything they did.”
Embiid had his 18th game of the season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds and could have grabbed a seat with his father and chilled out in the fourth. The Sixers emptied the bench as the lead stretched to 31 points and won for the sixth time in seven games.
Knicks: Fizdale said struggling draft picks Mitchell Robinson and Knox will not be sent to the G League.
76ers: The Sixers hope to provide a medical update on 2017 No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz on Friday. Fultz has not played since his agent shut him down and wanted an examination of the guard’s right shoulder. Fultz had said he wasn’t hurt and the decision came a day after he appeared to lose his backup point guard spot. “There’s been nothing more to talk about,” Brown said.
0 FOR 3
Simmons might be playing like an All-Star, but he has yet to attempt a 3-pointer this season and missed all 11 tries last season.
“I do concede that he is going to need it at some point but I definitely don’t think it is going to define him,” Brown said.
Knicks: Host Milwaukee on Saturday.
76ers: Host Washington on Friday.
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