Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said his dominant performance in a 131-123 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night was fueled by playing against Rudy Gobert. While the Jazz outscored the Sixers 63-24 at the 3-point line, Embiid continued his season-long parade to the foul line – he took 13 himself, while the Jazz took 19 as a team, one of several things that led up to Jazz star Donovan Mitchell being ejected and multiple Utah players criticizing the officials after the game.
“The past is the past. It’s unfortunate the way things happened last year when I wasn’t on there. … It plays a huge role in my mentality this year, just wanting to destroy everything in my path. I’m playing against a lot of great players every single night. They’re really good at what they do. But wherever I’m needed to get the job done, defensively and offensively, that’s what I’ve got to do.”
Embiid, who will start Sunday’s All-Star Game in Atlanta, is having what easily is the best season of his career, averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
But, after several games recently, Embiid has repeatedly said he’s more interested in winning Defensive Player of the Year than MVP – though, to be fair, he won’t be turning that honor down if it winds up coming his way.