Down by one in the closing seconds of regulation on January 15, Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook tried to go one on one against Joel Embiid to topple the Philadelphia 76ers, only to come up short as the buzzer sounded.
After the game, Westbrook called out Embiid for grabbing his hand when attempting the final shot. Per David McMenamin of ESPN, Westbrook said, “I couldn’t get my hand up to shoot because (Embiid) was grabbing it.”
Kyle Goon of Southern California News Group added that Westbrook showed reporters a screenshot of what he believed to capture Embiid grabbing his hand.
Because the game was decided by one point, the NBA will release a last two minute report, which will confirm whether or not Embiid fouled Westbrook on the game’s very last play. Since the game’s conclusion, there have been screenshots strongly indicating that what Westbrook alleged was what happened.
With the win, the Sixers are now 27-16, tying them with the Milwaukee Bucks for the third seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
P.J. Tucker’s Thoughts on Embiid
Having signed with the Sixers in the offseason, P.J. Tucker opened up on what it’s like to play with Joel Embiid to Ky Carlin of SixersWire. Tucker praised Embiid for how consistently good he is.
“Consistency, man. To be that good every single night, even on the nights when you may not feel it. He still gets it going, man, and to be that dominant, that big, that dominant. Not a lot of people in the history of the game really do it in a way he does it. It’s amazing to see on a nightly basis,” Tucker told Carlin.
Tucker then delved into Embiid’s abilities as a leader.
“He’s just going to do what he does, and that’s all you can expect from a guy like that,” Tucker said. “To expect him to play like that and be the vocal leader and be the emotional leader, it’s like he does what he does, and everybody else fills in their jobs behind, and you can’t ask anything more.”
Ex-Teammate Speaks Highly of Embiid
Former Sixer Nerlens Noel spoke highly of Embiid when he and the Detroit Pistons visited the Sixers on January 11. Noel talked about both Embiid’s abilities as a player and as a leader.
“Every year I’ve seen, he’s just taking great steps because his talent was obviously always there, but he’s become just a leader, you know?” Noel told reporters, per Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated. “Beyond a leader. [He’s] someone that gives himself and his body everything to the team, and you’ve seen that, and I don’t know why he’s not higher up there in the MVP votes. Somehow, the media doesn’t show him no love. You can see it every time he’s out there. He gives it his all.”
While reminiscing on his time with the Sixers, Noel singled out Embiid and how he helped him become the player he is.
“I’ve got a lot of memories here, a lot of relationships — Joel especially, having him come in and helping him learn a couple of things when he was a rookie,” Noel said, per Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Being a year or two ahead of him, I took a lot of pride in that, helping him build the foundation that he has today.”
Embiid and Noel were teammates from 2014 to 2017.