PHILADELPHIA (AP) Joel Embiid had a chance to fulfill a promise and demanded the ball.
Embiid got it, muscled toward the hoop and drew the sixth foul on Andre Drummond. Then, in typical Embiid fashion, he pointed toward the exit and waved goodbye to his rival.
Through two rounds of this matchup of young, talented and trash-talking big men, it’s Embiid 2, Drummond 0.
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Embiid had 25 points and 10 rebounds and got the better of Drummond down the stretch to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 108-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
”That was the goal going into this game. I told my teammates that he was going to foul out, and he did,” Embiid said. ”But it’s all fun. At the end of the game we hugged it out.”
Embiid drew the fifth and sixth fouls on Drummond in the span of a minute and hit the ensuing four free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-95 with 2:35 left.
”I got up into him and tried to make it tough for him,” Drummond said. ”Obviously, he sold the move better than I played defense, so he got the sixth foul and won the game. Simple as that.”
Embiid shot just 7 of 21 from the field and committing six turnovers, but he made 11 of 12 free throws and has two wins in two tries against Drummond this season.
They’ve been trading playful insults since the Sixers’victory in Detroit on Oct. 23.
”When’s the last time you’ve seen two real big men go at it?” Drummond said. ”It’s just a great matchup and I look forward to playing him again.”
Drummond had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Tobias Harris scored 27 points, and Reggie Jackson had 25 points for the Pistons. They trailed by 18 points early in the third quarter and were outrebounded 47-36.
”We don’t play two halves of games now,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”It’s not going to get it done.”
For a while, it looked like Drummond was going to lead a stunning comeback win.
His dunk with 10:04 left gave Detroit its first lead since the first quarter. He added a tip-in and two free throws before Embiid got the upper hand.
Robert Covington added 25 points, and Dario Saric had 17 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to put the Sixers ahead 103-95 in a game where the centers were the story.
Embiid, known to needle opponents, had 30 points and nine rebounds in a 97-86 victory in Detroit to end the Sixers’ 0-3 start. Embiid bragged that he dominated Drummond despite the Detroit center’s trash talk and said Drummond ”doesn’t play defense.”
Drummond responded with the tweet, ”See you Dec. 2nd.”
Embiid kept it going at the morning shootaround saying of Drummond, ”No disrespect, but he can’t shoot.”
Drummond wouldn’t speak to reporters in the locker room before the game, but told Fox Sports Detroit, ”You can’t really have a conversation with a man who can’t play a back-to-back.”
Embiid missed his first two NBA seasons with injuries and played in only 31 games last season before knee surgery. He’s yet to be cleared to play on consecutive nights and sat out Thursday’s loss at Boston.
Drummond has played in all but three games over the past five seasons.
”We’re just having fun,” Embiid said. ”I love having fun on social media. He does, too. We’re just young kids having fun out there.”
Pistons: The Pistons were twice called for a 5-second inbounding violation, including while trailing by five with 6 seconds left. … The Pontiac Silverdome, home of the Pistons from 1978-88, will be demolished Sunday morning.
76ers: Covington, who was 4 of 24 from 3-point range in the previous three games, hit 6 of 13 from long range. … Backup PG T.J. McConnell (left shoulder) missed his second straight game. … Fans chanted ”MVP!” as former Sixers great Allen Iverson was introduced before tipoff.
The coaches took different stances on the Embiid-Drummond feud. Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy called it ”a bunch of NBA crap,” while Philadelphia’s Brett Brown believes it fuels Embiid.
”He’s very much drawing a line in the sand. That’s his style. That’s Joel,” Brown said. ”I think in a good way his young teammates feed off it.”
Pistons: At San Antonio on Monday night.
76ers: Host Phoenix on Monday night.
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