PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid scored 70 points to surpass Wilt Chamberlain and set a new franchise record for points in a single game, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 133-123 victory over the San Antonio Spurs and rookie Victor Wembanyama on Monday at Wells Fargo Center.
Embiid’s final line — 70 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists — had never been seen before in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. In addition to setting a new personal and franchise record, Embiid also surpassed Milwaukee Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 64 points against the Indiana Pacers for the most points in a single game by a player this season.
Embiid broke the team record with a coast-to-coast driving layup late in the fourth quarter, capping off a legendary performance that saw him score 24 points in the first quarter and 34 in the first half and match his previous career high of 59 points — set last year against the Utah Jazz — in three quarters after ending the third with a step-back 3-pointer.
At that point, the only question remaining was whether Embiid would return at all in the fourth or spend the final 12 minutes on the bench — as he has several other times this season in blowout victories.
San Antonio, however, hung around, led by a stellar 33-point, seven-rebound performance by Wembanyama, and that resulted in a massive ovation when Embiid checked back into the game with 6:38 to go in the contest.
Embiid then was immediately fouled by Jeremy Sochan on his first offensive possession of the quarter, making both free throws to set a new career high. The crowd was desperately hoping to see the NBA’s reigning MVP make history — to the point where the fans booed Embiid’s teammate Danuel House Jr. when House took a corner 3-pointer midway through the quarter.
Embiid eventually matched Chamberlain’s previous franchise record of 68 points with a pair of free throws with 1:57 remaining, before his coast-to-coast layup broke the record. He ended up playing 36 minutes and 38 seconds.
It was a performance that made Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich’s pregame news conference seem prophetic.
Asked about whether Sochan might be able to help Wembanyama guard Embiid, the Spurs coach simply said, “I don’t think it matters what we do.”