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Sixers' Joel Embiid cries foul; will sit out Saturday

Joel Embiid will miss his eighth game of the season on Saturday and meet the team in Phoenix on Sunday for the Sixers' game against the Suns.

Sixers center Joel Embiid shoots the basketball while warming-up before the Sixers play the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.
Sixers center Joel Embiid shoots the basketball while warming-up before the Sixers play the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

PORTLAND, Ore. – Under the category "FTA" on the official box score — "free throws attempted" — the 76ers finished Thursday's game at the Moda Center with 14 attempts and the Portland Trail Blazers with 47.

That's a wide margin, and it left Joel Embiid less than pleased.

The center won't play in Saturday's game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center because he still hasn't been cleared to play on consecutive nights. He will instead rejoin the team Saturday night in Phoenix and participate in Sunday's matchup against the Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The center explained at his locker that the huge free-throw disparity had a hand in the Sixers' blowing an 18-point, third-quarter lead. They eventually lost, 114-110.

Of the Sixers' 14 free throws, they made 10. The Blazers (18-16) hit 36 of their attempts. Portland went 19 for 24 from the line in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't get any calls," he said. "The big fella [Jusuf] Nurkic played well, especially in the fourth quarter with five fouls.  I thought there was a couple of calls that could have gone my way and him fouling.

"It was a big piece of them taking that lead in the fourth quarter. But you know, it's on us. We can't be blowing leads like that."

Portland scored 42 points in the fourth quarter. The Sixers (15-19) shot just 38.1 percent from the field in the quarter.

They were also doomed by untimely turnovers. Eight of the Sixers' 14 giveaways came in the fourth.

But the lack of foul shots did contribute to their latest meltdown. One can argue that Embiid's playing on the perimeter instead of primarily on the block could be a reason he attempted only eight foul shots; he sank five of them.

The 7-foot-2, 279-pounder had career highs of six three-pointers made and 12 attempted. Embiid scored a team-high 29 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists and four turnovers.

His play led to Nurkic, in his own way, saying Embiid wasn't tough and questioning his dedication to basketball.

"He tries to be more famous than a player," he said of the social media star. "I respect him, though. He's a good player. He's not about tough."

On this night, Nurkic, the fourth-year player from Bosnia, had 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. One of his highlights came after he spun by Embiid on the block and threw down a wide-open dunk. Another came when he blocked an Embiid layup. Nurkic did the finger wave after the block.

"He's a skilled player, who is getting tired. it looks like," Nurkic said. "When you are playing defense on him and you play off of him, and you are attacking, he gets tired more."

This marked Embiid's third game back after missing the previous three with back tightness. He has a history of trolling opposing players on social media. So much so that he once called himself "Tro-el" Embiid.

Injury updates

Robert Covington is questionable against the Nuggets after injuring his left middle finger against the Blazers. X-rays were negative. Justin Anderson is doubtful with shin splints in his left leg. He participated in Friday's low-maintenance practice. Covington participated only in some light shooting.

Markelle Fultz continued to participate in individual drills because it was a low-maintenance day. Fultz has been sidelined 30 games with right shoulder soreness and rehabilitation. He is scheduled to perform team activities on this road trip.