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Embiid wins showdown with Wembanyama — 70 points on the anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game

Wembanyama (left) scored 33 points, but Embiid (right) more than doubled that tally

One of the best matchups on the NBA schedule for Monday night was Victor Wembanyama’s first-ever game in Philadelphia, against reigning MVP Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

The San Antonio Spurs may be on pace for one of their worst-ever seasons, but Wembanyama is living up to much of the promise and hype that developed around him before he was selected #1 overall in the 2023 draft.

However, Wembanyama is not Embiid. The French phenom is not yet the finished article, while Embiid — despite his injuries — has become an unstoppable force, at least for the Spurs’ defense. That’s because Embiid set a new career-high and a franchise record by scoring 70 points on Monday night as Philly defeated San Antonio, 133-123.

Who held the Sixers’ record for points in a game?

Embiid broke a long-standing 76ers record for points in a game, a mark last set by none other than Wilt Chamberlain. One of the greatest big men in basketball history, Chamberlain scored 68 points against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 16, 1967 — more than 56 years ago.

With less than two minutes to go in Monday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center, Embiid decided to take care of Chamberlain’s record himself. He ran point and took the ball into the heart of the Spurs’ defense, driving right at guard Keldon Johnson to lay the ball in for his 69th and 70th points.

On most other nights, Wembanyama’s Philly debut would have stolen the headlines. The 20-year-old scored 33 points in only 28 minutes, adding seven rebounds and two blocks for good measure. But Wemby alone wasn’t enough to slow the runaway train that is Joel Embiid.

As he often does on important matters around the NBA, LeBron James took to X and chimed in on Embiid’s record-setting night. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar, recovering from an ankle injury that has ruled him out of Tuesday’s contest with the city rival Clippers, congratulated Embiid for smashing his previous career high of 59 points and called the performance “crazy” — especially as Embiid alone scored 53 percent of Philly’s points on the night.

Embiid became only the ninth player in NBA history to score at least 70 points in a game, and the first player to reach the number since Damian Lillard last February. Perhaps poignantly, Embiid’s 70-point eruption took place on the 18th anniversary of the late Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

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