The Sixers lost in overtime in Joel Embiid‘s return from COVID-19 Saturday, but the star center was just relieved to be back on the court, writes Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times. Embiid missed the team’s last nine games after testing positive for the virus and described it as a frightening experience.
“I mean, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “It was that bad. I’m thankful to be sitting here.”
Embiid started slowly, making just one of four shots in the first eight minutes of the game, but he eventually became his usual dominant self. He played more than 45 minutes and scored 42 points, with 25 of those coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“I didn’t think I was going to play tonight,” Embiid said. “To me, it’s a miracle I played this many minutes, but it’s good.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- Alvin Gentry, who became the Kings‘ new interim coach when they fired Luke Walton last weekend, decided to join Sacramento’s staff in the offseason even though the Sixers made a more lucrative offer, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. There has been speculation that the Kings might shake up their roster in their quest for a playoff spot, but there have been no recent talks with Philadelphia about Ben Simmons, Fischer adds.
- Simmons was seen working out at the Wells Fargo Center before Saturday’s game, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Simmons completed his session before the team’s walkthrough, then left before the game started. There has been no progress in his standoff with the team, Pompey adds, as Simmons continues to contend that he isn’t mentally ready to play, while the Sixers want him to return unless mental health experts confirm that he can’t.
- The Sixers fell to 10-10 with the loss, but injuries and COVID-19 have hounded the team through the first quarter of the season, Pompey notes in a separate story. Saturday marked just the seventh time that all five starters have been played together, and the team has played just twice with a full roster available. “We showed the potential that we have,” Danny Green said. “With our guys being out, it just shows how great we could be. We just have to show the rhythm and that chemistry. But we never know if we’ll get that with the guys back. But that potential that we have and how good we could be, and the way we were playing without our guys, I think it shows a lot of character and how great we can be.”