PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid scored a franchise-record 70 points, the most in the NBA this season, to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 133-123 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
Embiid also set a career high with 18 rebounds. He was 24 of 41 from the field, including 1 of 2 from 3-point range, and made 21 of 23 free throws. He broke Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers record of 68 points, set on Dec. 16, 1967, with a layup with 1:41 to play.
Chamberlain was playing for the Philadelphia Warriors when he set the NBA record with 100 points.
A six-time All-Star and the league’s reigning MVP, Embiid has scored at least 30 points in 21 consecutive games. The 76ers have won six in a row.
Rookie Victor Wembanyama had 33 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes in the first matchup between the 7-footers. The rebuilding Spurs fell to 5-19 on the road.
Embiid said playing against Wembanyama added motivation to his mission every night.
“I wouldn’t sit here and lie to you, but that’s my mindset every single game,” Embiid said afterward on the local TV broadcast. “My mindset is to attack, dominate offensively and defensively, so tonight was no different.”
Embiid had tied his career high of 59 points through three quarters and re-entered the contest with 6:38 left and Philadelphia ahead 118-104. With the record in sight, the 76ers were feeding him the ball at every opportunity.
“Obviously he can score in so many ways, just his sheer size gets him a lot of stuff around the basket, gets him a lot of free throws,” 76ers coach Nick Nurse said. “The shooting touch is the skill part. The way he moves, the skill he has, the size he is, and he gets motivated like that, anything can happen I guess.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo had the previous high game in the NBA this season with 64 points.
All eyes were on Embiid and Wembanyama from even before the first tip when fans lined the court to watch the Spurs’ French phenom in warmups. The home fans already know what Embiid can do, and Philadelphia’s star might have wanted to make sure they didn’t forget.
“It will be interesting for all of us to see for the first time,” Nurse said before the game.
Electrifying might have been a better adjective.
“It would have been more fun in a win, of course, but it’s inspiring, especially offensively,” Wembanyama said.
Embiid hit a 13-footer over Wembanyama 1:11 into the contest. The Spurs rookie responded impressively, with a pair of 3-pointers within 27 seconds of each other, and then finished an alley-oop dunk before heading to the bench with 6:27 left in the first due to two fouls.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joked before the game that the Spurs’ plan against Embiid was to “hammer his (butt). I told Wemby to back him down over the rim and just throw him through the rim.”
But it was clear from the start that nothing was going to work. Embiid had 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting in the first quarter.
Spurs: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
76ers: At Indiana on Thursday night.