January 20, 2017
For Sixers fans, Friday night’s major scare started on one of those monster dunks that looked like it came from a little kid on a nerf hoop:
Coming down on his left leg, Joel Embiid suffered a knee contusion in the game against the Portland Trailblazers. The 22-year-old big man got up slow and started limping. He was able to make it down the floor but eventually returned to the locker room to get an MRI.
"I knew it was OK," Embiid said after. "I just felt I landed the wrong way."
For a second, everything looked like it was going to be fine. Embiid later emerged from the locker room to a raucous ovation a la Willis Reed, checking back into the game at the start of the fourth quarter.
After looking like his old self for a minute or two, Embiid landed on that same left leg again on another drive. He again came up limping, and after a couple more times up and down the floor, Brett Brown called timeout. Embiid was then removed from the game for good for precautionary reasons. Both Brown and Embiid said he hyperextended the knee.
"There was a minor tweak again, and for precautionary reasons only, the doctors didn't allow him to return," Brown said.
After the second scare, Embiid did ask to come back into the game late in the fourth quarter. But at that point in time, common sense had prevailed and the Sixers kept him out.
"Obviously those guys, the front office, they care about my future so they shut me down," Embiid said. "But I was fine."
The Sixers stuck with Nerlens Noel and Dario Saric in Embiid’s place down the stretch as the rookie of the year frontrunner watched the rest of the game from the bench. He saw a heck of an ending.
Off what felt like broken plays, Robert Covington hit a couple of huge threes in the last minute to give the Sixers an improbable 93-92 win on a night when they had quite a bit of trouble trying to score. Nerlens Noel held up 1-on-1 against Mason Plumlee at the buzzer, and the Sixers got a win:
"Nine times out of 10, my shots when I catch them in rhythm, you just got to think, 'Let it fly,'" Covington said.
That is eight wins in the last 10 games for the Sixers. They'll go for 9 in 11 tomorrow in Atlanta without Embiid, who wouldn't travel with the team anyway on the second night of a back-to-back.
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