Joel Embiid & James Harden See Records Shattered by Luka Doncic in Historic Game

Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic

Getty Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers speaks with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks in 2021.

Two members of the Philadelphia 76ers watched Luka Doncic eclipse their achievements during his historic 60-point, 21-rebound and 10-assist performance December 27 in a 126-121 overtime win over the New York Knicks.

Before Doncic’s epic performance, Sixers center Joel Embiid had the league’s top single-game point total, 59, set on November 13 in a 105-98 Philadelphia win. And guard James Harden had been the only player in NBA history to record a 60-point triple-double, recording a 60-11-10 back in January 2018 as a member of the Houston Rockets.

The NBA world could not help taking its eyes off Doncic against the Knicks. Not only did he pull off the 60-point triple-double, he managed to intentionally miss his free throw with 4 seconds left in regulation to get his own rebound and push the game to overtime.

After the Mavericks outscored the Knicks 11-6 in overtime (with Doncic scoring seven of those points), Doncic gave what is sure to become a legendary on-court postgame interview: “I’m tired as hell. I need a recovery beer,” he said.

Joel Embiid’s Season-High Mark

Doncic was the first player to score 60 in a game this season, only the 62nd time it’s happened in league history and the first time since March 15, when the Brooklyn Nets‘ Kyrie Irving did it. Embiid’s 59-point performance against the Jazz was a career-high for Embiid and included 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks. He accounted for 56.7% of the Sixers’ points in the matchup. Embiid is now tied with Doncic and the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker for the most 50-point games this season.

Embiid’s performance came at the right time for the Sixers, who were trying to turn around their season and playing without Harden, who was recovering from a foot injury. Somehow, Embiid’s defensive impact on the game stood out even more than his 59 points scored.

It also helped inflate his scoring average to the NBA-best 33.7 points per game where it sits now. Doncic is just behind him at 33.6 points per game.

James Harden’s Record

Doncic also became the second player in NBA history to secure a 60-point triple-double. Harden did it on January 30, 2018, in Houston’s 114-107 victory over the Orlando Magic. He ended with 60 points (more points than the Magic’s entire starting lineup), 11 assists and 10 rebounds. At the time, some thought it would be a record that would last.

Doncic’s performance also came on a night in which both Sixers stars will see their efforts get lost in the shuffle. The Sixers suffered a 116-111 loss to the Wizards, who snapped their eight-game losing streak. Philadelphia’s 6-of-31 (19.4%) shooting from beyond the 3-point arc ultimately sunk their effort, as Washington sat in a zone and forced Philadelphia to beat them from the perimeter.

Embiid finished the matchup with 48 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Harden finishing with 26 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. The non-Embiid minutes in which Harden led the charge were positive for the Sixers and the 33-year-old flashed a burst that has not been seen on a regular basis.

The Sixers now sit at 20-13 on the season and will turn their attention to their matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans on December 30.

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