PHILADELPHIA — It was anything but “a regular block.”
Joel Embiid punctuated the Philadelphia 76ers’ 101-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night by spiking Damian Lillard’s layup attempt out of bounds, volleyball style.
It capped a game-changing stretch by the Philadelphia center.
Philadelphia scored the game’s first 16 points, led by 13 at halftime and again by 16 early in the third. After Lillard got the Blazers within nine late in the quarter, Embiid answered with a basket, block, slam, jumper — and then the exclamation point. The emphatic rejection caused the frenzied crowd at the packed Wells Fargo Center to erupt.
“It was just a regular block,” said Embiid, who finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
Embiid’s modest answer followed a bold claim.
“Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” he said. “I just want to keep on growing. I’m still getting better. My blocks are a little bit down, but I’m a better rebounder this year. ”
Portland missed its first 13 shots before Shabazz Napier came off the bench and hit a jumper with 5:01 left in the first quarter. The Blazers never got closer than eight. It was the Blazers’ lowest point total of the season and the fewest that Philadelphia has allowed.
Portland shot just 33.7 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from the line.
“I don’t know if it was anything they did. We couldn’t buy a basket early,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Lillard finished with 30 points, hitting six 3s, but CJ McCollum had just five on 1-for-14 shooting.
“I think we defended hard. I think it was just another case of us struggling on the offensive end,” Lillard said. “We just weren’t able to put up points.”