LOS ANGELES – Thanksgiving came a week early for the 76ers.
Sixers coach Brett Brown thought it would take Joel Embiid until at least Thanksgiving before the center found his groove. That's because it would take at least another week for Embiid to get in the optimum playing shape needed to dominate.
At least, that was the thought before Wednesday's 115-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
Embiid had a record-setting performance, as the Sixers improved to 8-6.
He finished with career highs of 46 points, 7 assists, and 7 blocks. Embiid also had career bests in made field goals (14), made free throws (16), and free-throw attempts (19). He added 15 rebounds to finish with his second straight double-double and his sixth of the season. He tied his season low for turnovers with 2; he averages 4.4 per game.
"I mean, he was obviously dominant," Brown said.
In addition to playing with pace, the team was dedicated to feeding Embiid in the post, where he was unstoppable.
"I was just playing basketball basically," said Embiid, who scored 19 of his points in the fourth quarter. "They just kept throwing the ball to me in the post. And I kept finding new ways to score the ball, and I went to the free-throw line. That's where I was best at last year. I felt like today I did a great job."
The 7-foot-2, 282-pounder even had a big hand in Lakers reserve post player Julius Randle fouling out.
"And with me using different moves and attacking them, they didn't really know what to do," Embiid said.
The Eurostep and Hakeem Olajuwon's "Dream Shake" were two of the moves he used to score against the Lakers. In the process, he became the first player in NBA history with at least 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks, and seven assists in a game. He became the first Sixer to score at least 40 since Allen Iverson had 45 on Nov. 27, 2006.
"I wish I could have had a quadruple-double with blocks — shoutout, [Miami Heat center] Hassan Whiteside," Embiid said. "But, like I said, I just went out there and played basketball and played the right way.
"I wasn't forcing nothing — playing with my teammates, passing the ball."
Teammate Ben Simmons also had a solid game. The point guard finished with 18 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 block, and just 1 turnover for his ninth double-double of the season. He was one rebound shy of his third triple-double.
However, Embiid's performance was one that folks with talk about for some time. It's difficult to imagine what he's capable of doing once his conditioning improves. He's not in optimum playing shape because he missed time in the summer following knee surgery.
"I got a little bit tired towards the end," Embiid said. "But it's getting better. I played 35 minutes [Wednesday night], again. So it's getting better."
Embiid has plenty of time to rest before Saturday's rematch against the Golden State Warriors at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers flew home from California on Thursday and weren't scheduled to practice Friday.
While he was pleased with his performance, Embiid tried not to be too excited.
"Like the great Sonny Hill always tells me, 'You got to keep the balance,' " he said. "You can't get too high, and you can't get too low.
"If I have a bad game, bad game. If I have a great game, like [Wednesday night], there's a lot of games. I'm going to have some bad ones. You just can't get too high or too low."