LOS ANGELES: Joel Embiid unleashed a dominant performance with 35 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, six blocked shots and two steals on Sunday in Philadelphia’s 126-98 NBA rout of Portland.
The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player delivered what 76ers coach Nick Nurse called a “super dominant” showing, lifting the Sixers to victory in their season home opener.
“He’s always exceptional,” 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton said. “He’s always amazing for us. When he’s playing like that, he’s the best player in the league every night.”
The 29-year-old Cameroonian big man made 12-of-22 shots from the floor, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and sank 9-of-11 from the free throw line in 29 minutes.
“That’s my job, try to get better every single day,” Embiid said. “It starts on defense, having that mentality to play it, lock down everything and block everything and offensively just trying to make the right plays.
“It’s all about taking care of business. We got the win. I’m excited about that. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
The haunting thing for 76ers’ rivals is Embiid insists he must improve.
“I’ve still got to get better,” he said. “I had a bad turnover toward the end. I had three of them. That I can correct. I missed some passes and defensively I could have done a better job. But I’m happy.”
Tyrese Maxey added 26 points and 10 rebounds while Tobias Harris scored 24 to spark the Sixers, who expect to have unhappy guard James Harden back at practice on Tuesday.
Harden, a former MVP and three-time scoring champion who led the NBA in assists last season, hasn’t played this season.
The 34-year-old guard has tried to get into shape and took part in a pre-game walkthrough on Sunday, with Nurse saying Harden has done well in conditioning.
Harden sought a trade in vain in the off-season and said his relationship with club officials can’t be repaired.
Defending champion Denver improved to 3-0 as two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic had game highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds to lead a 128-95 blowout at Oklahoma City.
Michael Porter Jr. added 20 points and Jamal Murray had 19 for the Nuggets.
Stephen Curry scored 24 points, going 6-of-14 from 3-point range, and Klay Thompson added 19 points, going 5-of-10 from beyond the arc, in Golden State’s 106-95 triumph at Houston.
Golden State guard Chris Paul came off the bench for the first time in his 19-year career after 1,365 consecutive starts.
Damian Lillard struggled in his second game with Milwaukee, scoring only six points in a 127-110 home loss to Atlanta.
Trae Young scored 20 points and added 11 assists to spark eight Hawks scorers in double figures, including Clint Capela, who scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, but All-Star teammate Lillard, obtained in a trade from Portland last month, went 2-of-12 from the floor, 2-of-8 from 3-point range, and had six turnovers.
“It was a tough night,” Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said. “We didn’t deserve to win. They did.”
Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox scored 37 points and the host Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 132-127 in overtime, with reserve Malik Monk scoring half his 22 points in overtime.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 30 points and 16 rebounds while LeBron James contributed 27 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points while Russell Westbrook and Paul George each contributed 19 to spark the Los Angeles Clippers over San Antonio 123-83.
Top NBA Draft pick Victor Wembanyama lost in his first NBA road game.
“Got a bright future,” Westbrook said of the French teen giant. “He’s one of a kind. He’s going to keep getting better each and every year.”
“Wemby” scored 11 points with five rebounds and two assists over 26 minutes.
George had game highs of five steals and five assists while Westbrook grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
“We set the tone defensively, got stops, made big shots and that was a good game for us,” Westbrook said.