Philadelphia’s All-Star center was frustrated. Boston’s savvy veteran Al Horford is Embiid’s kryptonite, and while Embiid had 23 points and 14 rebounds he shot 9-of-22 from the floor and was in foul trouble much of the game (to the point he didn’t contest a Marcus Smart drive and dunk in the final minute). Embiid had some moments, but he could not find a sustained groove against Horford. Late in the game, Embiid wanted a call he did not get.
Still salty about it all, Embiid ended his postgame press conference with “the referees f****** suck” (you can see the video above). It was unprompted.
That will cost him $25,000, the standard league fine for calling out the officials. Not that Embiid will notice much, he may think the venting was worth it.
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) New stars, new lineup doesn’t change fact Boston is a problem for Philadelphia. The Celtics came into Tuesday night off two big blown leads and ugly losses to the teams from Los Angeles. Philadelphia, on the other hand, was riding high, the addition of Tobias Harris into the starting lineup had led to wins showing off crisp ball movement and offensive versatility. The Sixers were talked about as a Finals threat, while people wondered if Boston was now the fourth best team in the East.
Then they played a game that looked a lot like last season’s 4-1 Boston playoff win.
Al Horford bothered Joel Embiid much of the night, and the Celtics’ big man scored 23 to match Embiid. There was no Kyrie Irving, but Jayson Tatum stepped up with 20 and was a shot creator all night. Plus, the man can finish around the rim.
Boston hunted out and exploited mismatches all night, and the result was a 112-109 Boston win on the road that reminded everyone the Celtics are going to be a force to deal with in the playoffs.
For the 76ers, there are concerning signs out of this loss. Once again, when slowed down and easy transition buckets are taken away, the Sixer offense can bog down in the half court against a good defense. Embiid was 2-of-8 from three, and more than the percentage the problem is that’s more attempts than a guy who is a beast inside should have in a game. Also, Embiid will be writing a check to the league for his postgame comments that “the referees f****** suck” (he was frustrated about being in foul trouble most of the night and not getting a late foul call on Horford).
Ben Simmons had 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was attacking, but he was 2-of-7 from the free throw line and in the playoffs teams will exploit that by fouling him (he’s shooting 58.7 percent for the season). Harris struggled, shooting 4-of-14 overall and 0-of-6 from three for Philly. When T.J. McConnell was on the floor the Celtics went at him to expose his defense — and it worked.
On the bright side for Philly, their star-studded starting lineup was +4 in 22.7 minutes on the night. Looking ahead to a potential playoff matchup, the Philly may need more Jimmy Butler in this matchup, he had 22 points on 7-for-12 and was the most consistent shot creator the team had.
A pre-All-Star game will have little meaning if these teams meet up in the East playoffs again. Both teams will continue to evolve, the Celtics will get Irving back, and the 76ers should figure out how to make their new-look roster flow more smoothly.
Mostly, this game was a preview of how intense and close the East playoffs are going to be.
2) Lakers look like a team that needs the All-Star break, fall below .500 with an ugly loss to Hawks. Remember how LeBron James was going to come back from his groin injury and the Lakers were going to surge back up the standings and into the postseason? Yea… not so much. They are now 2-3 since his return.
Tuesday night, Los Angeles looked like a team that needed a vacation. With Magic Johnson looking on in person, the Lakers ended their Grammys road trip with a 117-113 loss to an Atlanta team that has shown growth and potential of late (they got 22 points each from Trae Young and John Collins).
If the Lakers don’t come back from their nine days off now for the All-Star break looking rested and refreshed, they are going to get a much earlier, much longer vacation than they planned on this summer. Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Lakers a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs right now — it likely will take 45 wins or more to get a playoff spot in the West, the Lakers would need to go at least 17-8 down the stretch to hit that number.
Tuesday, the Lakers looked disinterested on the defensive end and their rotations were late, while on offense there was a lot of standing and ball watching. The Lakers didn’t act like a team that needs to make a playoff push, they acted like you do at work the day before your vacation starts.
Tuesday’s problems started at the top. LeBron James had a triple-double with 28 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds (and he played a lot more of this game at center than we’ve seen), but he also had some rough moments when it mattered. For example, there was when Trae Young blew past him for a key and-one bucket late.
Plus, the Hawks fans heckled LeBron with “Kobe’s better” chants.
And LeBron was the best Laker on the floor. The Lakers miss Lonzo Ball (especially on defense), and the rest of the young core had one foot out the door on Tuesday.
The Lakers have the talent and could — even should — be able to make a run and get in front of the Kings and Clippers for a playoff spot in the West. But it’s not going to be handed to them, the Lakers need to earn it. Tuesday night they did not, they were not the hungry team on the court.
3) Klay Thompson dislocates a finger, pops it back in place, comes back in red hot and Warriors beat Jazz. It looked ugly. Midway through the first quarter, Klay Thompson dislocated his left ring finger, it was pointing a way fingers simply should not.
Thompson had hit popped back in place, taped up, then shot 8-of-11 the rest of the way in the Warriors win over the Jazz, 115-108.
The Jazz, with Rudy Gobert in the paint (he should have been an All-Star) have been a tough matchup for the Warriors, and that was the case again. What the Warriors got was a strong defensive game from Draymond Green, enough from Kevin Durant, and the Warriors got the win because they got 74 points out of their big three.
Rajon Rondo hits buzzer-beater as Lakers gut Celtics (VIDEO)
The Los Angeles Lakers did not trade half of their roster on Thursday afternoon for Anthony Davis. On Thursday night, that at least appeared to be the right call in the short-term.
In a tight game on TNT, the Lakers ground down to the wire against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Boston’s Jayson Tatum hit a go-ahead shot with less than 20 seconds to go, leaving it up to the Lakers to score with the shot clock turned off.
Things did not look rosy after Brandon Ingram drove to the basket and wound up getting blocked on a reverse attempt by Al Horford. Both teams then struggled to grab the loose ball, but eventually Rajon Rondo wound up with it.
Then, against his former team, Rondo hit a game winner.
NBA All-Stars have been released for 2019. We got the starters last week, and now the reserves have come in.
The teams will be selected by captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Feb. 7 on a live broadcast on TNT. Meanwhile, fans are ecstatic about the players from their favorite teams that made the All-Star game, while at the same time are angry about potential snubs.
As it happens every year — largely because of the continued requirement of a certain number of players from each conference — there appear to be several significant All-Star “snubs” and this season is no different.
The biggest is probably Rudy Gobert, who has been the defensive anchor or a Utah Jazz team that has turned their season around and is currently seventh in the West. Gobert could have easily replaced LaMarcus Aldridge or perhaps Klay Thompson, who is having a down year (at least for his standards) in Golden State.
A quick list of potential 2019 NBA All-Star snubs yields a considerable pool of considerables, including but not limited to:
Who do you think should have made the All-Star Game out of this list? And if you are going to supplant one of the guys that did make it, who would they replace?
The NBA has more good players than they can fit on to two All-Star teams, and that will probably always be the case. That gives fans and players something to consider, and acts as fuel for the fire for the rest of the season.
Warriors win 10th straight, hold on to beat Celtics 115-111
BOSTON (AP) —Kevin Durant had 33 points and nine rebounds, Stephen Curry scored 24 points and Klay Thompson had 21, including two key free throws for Golden State on Saturday night to beat the Boston Celtics 115-111 and give the Warriors their 10th win in a row.
Kyrie Irving scored 32 points with 10 assists and Al Horford had 22 points and 13 rebounds for Boston, which had won five straight and 10 in a row at home.
In a game that featured 21 lead changes, the Warriors took a 113-111 lead with 47 seconds left on Thompson’s only free throws of the game and held on as Boston had three chances to tie it or take the lead. Marcus Smart rimmed out on a 3-pointer, Irving airballed a fadeaway from the baseline and Marcus Morris was short on a 3.
Draymond Green missed two free throws, but he got his own rebound and then Curry made a pair of foul shots with 6.2 seconds left to ice it.
The matchup of the defending NBA champions and one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference had a sold-out TD Garden standing for the final two minutes. The crowd included several New England Patriots on the eve of their departure for the Super Bowl, including owner Bob Kraft and defensive backs Jason and Devin McCourty.
Golden State opened a 56-47 lead in the last five minutes of in the second quarter, but the Celtics scored the next 10 points to erase it. The Warriors hit the first basket of the fourth to open a 92-84 lead, but Boston scored seven in a row and, after a basket by Thompson, another five straight to take a 96-94 lead.