By Tommy Matthews
Joel Embiid had the game of his life — a career-high 59 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks in 36 minutes, to give the 76ers a 105-98 victory over the Jazz.
Embiid scored 26 of Philly’s 27 points in the fourth quarter, along with registering five of his seven blocked shots in the final period.
“This is not about me,” Embiid said afterward. “We did it as a team. Obviously, the coaches put me in those positions and my teammates fed me the ball.
“I thought we had great spacing around everything we were doing. … Like I said, all the credit goes to my teammates.”
Coach Doc Rivers — who has played or coached in close to 3,000 regular-season and playoff games — declared, “I’ve never seen a more dominating performance, when you combine offense and defense.”
Among the records Embiid set, according to ESPN Stats & Information research:
• He became the first player with at least 50 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks in a game since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74.
• He became the first player to register at least 20 points and five blocks in a single quarter in the past 25 seasons.
• He became the first player to outscore both teams by himself in a fourth quarter (26-21) since Tracy McGrady in 2006.
• He became the fourth player — along with Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Bradley Beal — to score at least 100 points across a back-to-back since the NBA-ABA merger, and the first center to do so since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.
Joel Embiid had 26 points in the fourth quarter Sunday night while all other players had 21 (the Jazz had 20; the rest of the 76ers had 1). Per Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the fourth player in the past 25 seasons to outscore everyone in a final quarter:
The Sixers needed every ounce of Embiid’s performance to pull out a second victory in as many nights.
With James Harden still watching in street clothes from the bench as he deals with a foot strain that is expected to force him to miss a month, the 76ers turned to Embiid to carry them home at both ends down the stretch.
And, in a way virtually no other player on the planet could, Embiid did just that. He carved his way through Utah’s defense repeatedly, drawing one foul after another sandwiched around hitting a series of buckets.
The only shot he missed of the quarter? A 3-pointer late that would have given him 60 points on the night, a difficult turnaround triple attempt that Embiid admitted with a smile afterward was a heat check.
To say he had earned that, however, would be an understatement. In that fourth quarter, Embiid went 7-for-8 from the field. His teammates missed all nine shots they took.
“It’s funny,” Tyrese Maxey said. “I was like, at one point, Coach was trying to run a play, like a pick-and-roll play, and I was like, ‘Let’s get the ball to Joel.’ And he was like, ‘I agree.’ Because he’s really good right now.”
Meanwhile, at the other end, Embiid not only blocked several shots, but he deterred several more, as Utah’s free-flowing, motion offense — one that tries to get lots of 3-pointers and shots at the rim — ground to a halt when trying to score around him.