Joel Embiid was not happy with the officiating following the Philadelphia 76ers 107-106 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, taking exception to a flagrant foul call on LeBron James that he dubbed as “dangerous.”
James made contact with Embiid while he was in the air during the third quarter, causing the Sixers big man to tumble to the floor. Embiid thought the play warranted a flagrant foul 2, rather than the flagrant 1 James was assessed after a review.
“Well, first of all, I mean you look at it, that’s a very dangerous play,” Embiid told reporters. “I guarantee you that if it was me, I would have probably been ejected from the game, which has happened in the past with me getting flagrant fouls really for nothing.”
What made Embiid equally irate was that he was given a flagrant 1 on the other end after striking Anthony Davis with an elbow.
“When you compare that to the one that I got, which I thought I didn’t really hit him, I didn’t elbow him,” Embiid said. “I might have touched him. But I don’t think it deserved the flagrant, if you’re gonna compare those two.
“Those are tough plays, and I just thought, you know, it should’ve been a flagrant 2.”
Joel Embiid was visibly in pain and went down hard on his back after being fouled.
LeBron was called for a flagrant 1 and Embiid stayed in the game. pic.twitter.com/LSOVsgVy5f
— ESPN (@espn) January 28, 2021
James didn’t talk specifically about the foul but admitted the Lakers should have done a better job defending Embiid without fouling.
“Got to do a better job keeping our hands out of the cookie jar, who has Harden-like magic as far as the swipe move and things of that nature,” James said.
Doc Rivers on LeBron James: He’s Not Dirty
Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers was concerned for the health of Embiid, who is in the MVP conversation this season. But the veteran head coach wanted to make one thing clear about James while speaking to reporters.
“First of all, LeBron’s not a dirty player. It was just a physical play and they had to call the flagrant, I guess,” Rivers said. “You can get a flagrant easy these days. But that fall was hard, and there was some concern there, for sure. The fact that Joel kept going, clearly he wasn’t the same after that, as far as his movement. And we kinda knew that, and we used him a lot in pick and rolls because of that.”
When asked about LeBron James' foul on Joel Embiid, Doc Rivers says LeBron James is not a dirty player, and indicates he thinks all of the flagrant foul calls tonight were excessive. Said Embiid wasn't the same after taking the hard fall on the play, though.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 28, 2021
That being said, Embiid still finished with a solid stat line, scoring a team-high 28 points to go with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.
Alex Caruso Steps Up Down the Stretch for Lakers
While James provided another packed stat line for the Lakers — 34 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists — it was Alex Caruso who sparked a late Lakers rally that nearly helped them pick up their 15th win of the year.
“AC is whatever we need. AC is kind of a Swiss Army knife, to be honest,” James said of the 26-year-old fan-favorite guard. “If you need scissors, wine opener, nail clipper, if you need a knife. He’s all that in one. He can do it all. He helps our ball club in so many different ways.”
Davis also had a nice night despite the loss, putting up 23 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, although he would have liked to shoot better than 9 of 18 from the field.
“Missed some shots that he’s accustomed to making,” James said of Davis. “I think AD is in a pretty good rhythm right now and I think every game is getting better and better for him. But it’s our job to give him the ball & I thought we did a good job at times. At times, we did not.”
The Lakers will continue their extended road trip on Thursday against the Pistons.