Embiid Gets Away with Dirty Plays & Flagrant 2, then Bruises Knicks with 3’s & Free Throws. Philly 125 NY 114

An angry, out-of-control Joel Embiid was pushing and shoving and purposely banging into Knick players all over the court in the 1st half — at one point grabbing Mitchell Robinson‘s legs underneath the basket in a career-threatening, dangerous play — but only got a Flagrant 1 called and got away with many of the other fouls.

Robinson missed the second half, after going out with a left-ankle sprain after the out-of-control Embiid fell on him — the same ankle he had surgery on this winter.

Then after regaining his composure at halftime, Embiied burned the Knicks with a 3-pt shooting barrage in the 3rd quarter — going on a roll after any Knick who got close to him was called for a foul.

Embiid scored 50 points on 13-19 shooting (5-7 from 3) and 19-21 from the free throw line. Knicks were hit with fouls anytime they had even incidental contact with Embiid — allowing him to go the line 21 times, more than the entire Knick team (19 free throws).

Final score: 76’ers 125 Knicks 114 in Philadelphia on a Thursday night, the arena filled with 45 percent Knick fans. The Knicks lead in the 7-game series is reduced to 2 games to 1.

“We gotta do better,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. When asked about the Flagrant foul on Embiid, a livid Thibs asked: “Which one — the one they called or the one they didn’t call? I just want to make sure we have clarity on that.”

When asked about the flagrant, Thibs said, “I don’t even know. What did they have 33 free throws?”

“This is playoff basketball,” added Thibs. “It’s going to go up; it’s going to escalate. We gotta bring it. We gotta bring it. My thing is, there’s 2 teams; they responded now we have to respond. We have to do a lot better. We have to fix it.”

1. Knicks Led After 1 Quarter; Embiid Out of Control

Before the game an angry Joel Embiid declared the 76ers were the better team and would win the series. He took the court with that anger, and played a physical, borderline dirty game from the start, banging into Knick players, pushing and shoving people, then flopping and complaining to the refs for a foul.

The plan worked as Isaiah Hartenstein was called for 2 early fouls at the beginning of the 1st quarter and was subbed with Mitchell Robinson at the 6 minute mark.

Philly continued their physical play — Kyle Lowry blasting Donte DiVincenzo across the head for a Flagrant foul at the 6:59 left mark.

With 4:34 left in the quarter, OG Anunoby got the ball inside and attempted a short jumper but Embiid knocked the ball loose momentarily from OG’s hands, then flopped backwards to try and draw an offensive foul. Anunoby grabbed the ball back and fed Mitchell Robinson underneath for an easy slam — but Joel Embiid, on the floor, grabbed Robinson’s legs and pulled him down. It was a career-threatening play — Embiid was charged with a Flagrant 1. Many felt it was clearly a Flagrant 2 and he should have been ejected.

Twitter lit up with Knick fans and national media calling the play dirty. NBA Analyst Kendrick Perkins tweeted: “Embiid should have been ejected. That was some BS. He could have seriously hurt that man.”

At 3:31 left in the quarter, an out-of-control Embiid barreled into Robinson then fell over him, spraining Robinson’s ankle. Robinson was called for the foul and Embiid got more free throws. This would be the play that would cause Mitch to miss the 2nd half. Robinson continued in the game, but was hobbled.

The Knicks were not thrown off their game, playing with a steady determination. OG Anunoby made a patented steal and dunk to put NY up 15-13.

2. Brunson Was On His Game, Shooting Well

Jalen Brunson was on his game from the start — erasing the poor shooting performances of the prior 2 games. Brunson was on his way to 39 points on 13-27 shooting (3-7 from 3) and 10-12 from the free throw line — but most of those free throws came as ‘make up calls’ in the 4th quarter by the refs — throughout the game Philly was playing an aggressive, physical defense on Brunson with hardly any fouls called.

When asked about Brunson’s good shooting game, Thibs said: “We’re scoring a ton of points at an efficient level. (Brunson) had the team playing well (in the previous games). He didn’t shoot well but he had the team playing well. And then he ended up with 12 free throws (in this game), and a lot of them came at the end. And so I’ll look at it again; I’ll send my clips in like I do every game, and they’ll say ‘marginal contact’, and then we’ll have ‘marginal contact’ on Embiid and he’ll be at the line 21 times — that’s the way it works.”

Hartenstein returned late in the quarter and made 2 floaters on feeds from Brunson. NY took a 29-27 lead into the 2nd quarter.

3. Knicks Led At Half; Lose Robinson

The 2nd quarter was more of the same — an out-of-control Embiid was pushing and shoving and running into Knicks on seemingly every play. And getting away with most of it.

Meanwhile Knicks who defended him were getting called for touch calls. Hartenstein started the 2nd quarter with another floater inside off a Brunson pass, but soon after picked up his 3rd on a touch foul defending Embiid inside and was back to the bench.

NY was up 34-30 when Cameron Payne entered the game. The seldom-used sub killed the Knicks — hitting consecutive 3’s to give Philly the lead, and then a drive to put Philly up 4.

But the Knicks retained their composure and took back the lead.

Jalen Brunson hit a big 3, Bojan Bogdanovic provided scoring, and Miles McBride hit a 3 to tie the score. OG Anunoby made a drive and then a dunk next time down and NY was back up, 49-47.

Josh Hart was playing a tough defensive game, grabbing rebounds, hitting big 3’s, and keeping the motion offense running with heady passes. He hit Donte DiVincenzo with a pass for the DUNK of the game to put NY up 56-53.

NBA Analyst Ross Kreines gave kudo’s to Hart: “Josh Hart always engaged on both ends, and also making the game easier for others with some great passes whether its been off penetrate and kicks, making defenders pay when they overplay by getting them an easy 2 backdoor, lobs along with making the extra pass and hockey assist.”

NY took a 58-55 lead into the lockerroom.

4. Embiid & Philly 3-Pt Barrage in 3rd

But Philly came out in the 2nd half and hit the Knicks with a 3-pt barrage. Mitchell Robinson’s ankle stiffened up so he did not come out for the 2nd half and that did not help.

Brunson and Hartenstein were hooking up for inside plays early in the quarter — Brunson drives or Hartenstein floaters off Brunson passes inside — but on the other end Joel Embiid kept hitting 20 footers or 3’s every time down.

Josh Hart made a couple of big 3’s, and Brunson was scoring on drives, 3’s and pullups, but Embiid answered with 3’s. Tyrese Maxey, who the Knicks had held in check in the 1st half, joined the scoring, Kyle Lowry hit a 3, Kelly Oubre Jr hit a 3, and there was Cameron Payne again with another 3.

Philly couldn’t miss — and went up by 13 points.

5. Knicks Outscore Philly in 4th But Not Enough

With Robinson gone, Precious Achiuwa was brought in to spell Hartenstein, who himself was in foul trouble. Precious played well. He dunked to start the 4th and the Knicks gamely stayed in it — pulling back within 9 on scoring by Brunson, Miles McBride (a 3), Hart, and later Hartenstein — but Philly kept answering — scoring by Maxey and then Embiid continuing to go to the free throw line.

Embiid’s physical, dirty play continued to the end:

A Josh Hart offensive rebound and tip in pulled NY to within 7 with a minute left, but Embiid was soon back to the line to wrap it up.


Even the Empire State Building was incensed at Embiid, tweeting that he had been banned.

The Boxscore



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