The Rundown: Embiid, Jokic come up big

Published January 20, 2022, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

Star centers Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic produced huge numbers to lead their respective teams to wins.


76ers 123, Magic 110

Nets 119, Wizards 118

Hawks 134, Timberwolves 122

Hornets 111, Celtics 102

Heat 104, Trail Blazers 92

Bulls 117, Cavaliers 104

Bucks 126, Grizzlies 114

Mavericks 102, Raptors 98

Spurs 118, Thunder 96

Rockets 116, Jazz 111

Pistons 133, Kings 131

Nuggets 130, Clippers 128

Pacers 111, Lakers 104

What went down

In a packed 13-game slate, the league featured big games everywhere.

In Washington, Kyrie Irving's late-game heroics were enough to lift the Brooklyn Nets over the Wizards. Irving, playing in his fifth game this season, poured in 30 points and seven assists and continued to lead the team on the road with Kevin Durant sitting out due to a left knee sprain.

Chicago got Alex Caruso back and immediately rattled off a big win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end. 

The Bulls (28-15) stayed on top of the East, tied with the Miami Heat (29-16), who were also winners today against Portland. The Nets (28-16) are just half a game behind in third place.

Speaking of keeping the Eastern standings close, the Milwaukee Bucks made easy work of the Memphis Grizzlies to improve to 28-19, just two games behind Chicago and Miami. This tends to happen when Milwaukee has all three of their All-Stars in the lineup. The Bucks are a staggering 17-3 when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are available this season.

Out in the West, the Houston Rockets—despite a low-scoring display from Jalen Green—scored a huge upset, shocking Jordan Clarkson and the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City to notch their second straight win.

The Rockets pulled this off by draining 22 of their 45 3-points attempts. The Jazz couldn’t keep up, making just 10 of their 38 attempts from deep.

There was also a bit of Luka Magic in Dallas as the Mavericks escaped the Toronto Raptors for their fourth consecutive win.

Luka dropped a season-high 41 points and would have been today’s Big-time Baller if not for a massive performance in Philly.

Big-time baller

Joel Embiid didn't need a ton of time to dominate the Orlando Magic. Embiid put up a career-high-tying 50 points on 17-for-23 shooting, on top of 12 rebounds and three blocks in just 27 minutes.

Embiid became the third Sixer with multiple 50-point games, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson. On a rate basis, Embiid’s 1.85 points per minute this game was the eighth-best rate in a single game in NBA history.

If Embiid can have monstrous games like this barely playing big minutes, it’s going to make life easier for the Sixers as they try to keep their star fresh for the playoffs.

In Denver, Nikola Jokic almost got 50, scoring 49 points to go with 14 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Nuggets past the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime.

This has been the level Jokic has needed to be at to keep Denver in contention. It says a lot about the reigning MVP, who musters monster performances like this on a daily basis.

What he said

At 25 years old, Stanley Johnson has already seen the highs and lows of NBA life. After being selected eighth overall in the 2016 Draft, Johnson has bounced around the NBA and only now has found his niche on a Los Angeles Lakers squad desperately needing his skill set.

Johnson told his story to The Undefeated, recalling a frank conversation he had with Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri about his future in the league.

“That was a real honest conversation. That’s what I needed to hear. In the NBA, honesty is not always the first and foremost thing that people want to give you because it’s not the easiest thing to say to people that are professionals. I’ve been playing basketball all my life. I’m pretty damn good at basketball, so to tell me I’m bad at basketball, it’s a hard conversation to have with a professional athlete,” Johnson said.

“It takes a different type of man to tell you that to your face and not in a pessimistic way, in a constructive way. What are you going to do? Are you going to take [it poorly] or are you going to do something about it? I felt like I want to do something about it.”

Did you see that?

Dejounte Murray has been feeling himself this entire season. He had a 28-14-10 triple-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder today and even whipped out all the sauce in this pass to Drew Eubanks.

This sequence from Trae Young’s 37-point masterpiece pretty much summed up Minnesota’s struggles all game.