Joel Embiid outplays, then waves goodbye to Drummond, Sixers win 108-103


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had a chance to fulfill a promise and demanded the ball.

Embiid got it, muscled toward the hoop and drew the sixth foul on Andre Drummond. Then, in typical Embiid fashion, he pointed toward the exit and waved goodbye to his rival.

Through two rounds of this matchup of young, talented and trash-talking big men, it’s Embiid 2, Drummond 0.

Embiid had 25 points and 10 rebounds and got the better of Drummond down the stretch to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 108-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.

“That was the goal going into this game. I told my teammates that he was going to foul out, and he did,” Embiid said. “But it’s all fun. At the end of the game we hugged it out.”

Embiid drew the fifth and sixth fouls on Drummond in the span of a minute and hit the ensuing four free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-95 with 2:35 left.

“I got up into him and tried to make it tough for him,” Drummond said. “Obviously, he sold the move better than I played defense, so he got the sixth foul and won the game. Simple as that.”

Embiid shot just 7 of 21 from the field and committing six turnovers, but he made 11 of 12 free throws and has two wins in two tries against Drummond this season.

They’ve been trading playful insults since the Sixers’victory in Detroit on Oct. 23.

“When’s the last time you’ve seen two real big men go at it?” Drummond said. “It’s just a great matchup and I look forward to playing him again.”

Drummond had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Tobias Harris scored 27 points, and Reggie Jackson had 25 points for the Pistons. They trailed by 18 points early in the third quarter and were outrebounded 47-36.

“We don’t play two halves of games now,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not going to get it done.”

For a while, it looked like Drummond was going to lead a stunning comeback win.

His dunk with 10:04 left gave Detroit its first lead since the first quarter. He added a tip-in and two free throws before Embiid got the upper hand.

Robert Covington added 25 points, and Dario Saric had 17 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to put the Sixers ahead 103-95 in a game where the centers were the story.

Embiid, known to needle opponents, had 30 points and nine rebounds in a 97-86 victory in Detroit to end the Sixers’ 0-3 start. Embiid bragged that he dominated Drummond despite the Detroit center’s trash talk and said Drummond “doesn’t play defense.”

Drummond responded with the tweet, “See you Dec. 2nd.”

Embiid kept it going at the morning shootaround saying of Drummond, “No disrespect, but he can’t shoot.”

Drummond wouldn’t speak to reporters in the locker room before the game, but told Fox Sports Detroit, “You can’t really have a conversation with a man who can’t play a back-to-back.”

Embiid missed his first two NBA seasons with injuries and played in only 31 games last season before knee surgery. He’s yet to be cleared to play on consecutive nights and sat out Thursday’s loss at Boston.

Drummond has played in all but three games over the past five seasons.

“We’re just having fun,” Embiid said. “I love having fun on social media. He does, too. We’re just young kids having fun out there.”


Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.