Joel Embiid has been playing the best basketball of his career this season, and that trend continued on Wednesday, when the big man put up 31 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past the Houston Rockets, 118-113. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Sixers and pushed their lead atop the Eastern Conference back up to 1.5 games.
While Embiid will be most pleased that the team got back on track, it was also a pretty notable night for him on a personal level. This was his 12th straight game with at least 25 points, which puts him in a class with Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain as the only other Sixers to have a streak like that.
Sure, that’s a somewhat arbitrary stat, but the fact that the only other players to pull it off are former MVPs and Hall of Famers illustrates just what a historic run this has been from Embiid. Over this stretch, Embiid is leading the league in scoring and averaging 34 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 54.3 percent from the field.
Embiid’s performance against the Rockets was a microcosm of everything we’ve seen from him this season. He was dominant in and around the paint, knocked down mid-range jumpers and got to the free-throw line on a frequent basis. DeMarcus Cousins simply had no answer for Embiid’s array of moves.
And in the fourth quarter, when the Sixers really needed him, Embiid took over. He hit a number of clutch free throws down the stretch and scored nine of the Sixers’ final 12 points as they held off the Rockets’ comeback attempt.
Embiid has been battling a sore back ever since he took a hard fall against the Los Angeles Lakers last month, and it wasn’t even a guarantee he would suit up against the Rockets. After the game he gave an update, saying his back was “pretty tight” throughout, but that he should be fine long term. The Sixers will have to hope that’s the case because his history-making performance on Wednesday showed just how important he is to their success.