LOS ANGELES -- Joel Embiid loves playing the Los Angeles Lakers.
One has to assume the Lakers don’t feel the same way about facing him. That’s because Embiid is averaging 31.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 4.6 blocks in three career games against the Western Conference squad.
The scoring average is Embiid’s second highest against an NBA team. The two-time All-Star Game starter is averaging 32.5 points in four games against the Los Angeles Clippers.
He’ll look to continue his dominance Tuesday night when the Sixers (32-18) face the Lakers (26-24) at the Staples Center.
So what is about playing the Lakers?
Embiid gave a lighthearted answer.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess it goes for both L.A. teams. I guess I’m not a big fan of L.A. I’m just kidding. L.A. is a great city.
“I don’t know. I do it with every team. I guess that the Lakers … I just do it with every team.”
That’s hard to argue.
Embiid has scored at least 30 points in 22 games this season. He’s scored 40 or more points on 10 of those occasions. And the 7-foot-2, 270-pounder has a league-leading 21 games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds.
But playing in the Staples Center also gives him a boost. His best game against the Lakers came at that arena.
Embiid finished with 46 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 blocks in a 115-109 victory in Los Angeles on Nov. 15, 2017. Unstoppable, he made 14 field goals and 16 of 19 free throws.
“I love the Staples Center,” Embiid said. “That’s a place I always love to come into and play, especially when we play the Lakers because it’s so much different than when we play the Clippers.
“The atmosphere is different, the lighting. Everything is just different. And it’s Lake Show. You want to come out and put on a show.”
On Tuesday, Embiid and Co. will look to beat the Lakers on their home floor for the third consecutive time. In addition to last season’s six-point win, the Sixers took a 118-116 victory at the Staples Center on March 17, 2017.
Embiid will be ready after missing Saturday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver for much-needed rest. He’s been playing with back tightness.
Starting power forwards Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler will also return to action. Butler missed the last three games with a sprained right wrist. He said he experienced a little soreness, but nothing serious at Monday’s practice. Meanwhile, Chandler sat out Saturday’s game with left hamstring tightness. It was a precautionary move after he had fluid drained from the hamstring on Thursday.
But all eyes will be on Embiid, the first Sixer voted to start in consecutive All-Star Games since Allen Iverson did it seven straight times from 2000-06.
“These are the types of moments that you dream of, especially [because] of my history” Embiid said of the honor. “A lot of you guys said I was never going to play in a game. Then to be here and make the All-Star Game as a starter two years in a row is amazing.”
Embiid, who missed his first two seasons after two foot surgeries, said he still has a long way to go.
“I feel like a lot of people haven’t really seen what I can do,” he said. “I’m excited to keep working and keep getting better.”