When the Philadelphia 76ers tipped off against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night in South Philly, Sixers star Joel Embiid wasted no time getting at it.
In the first quarter of action, the Sixers put up 25 points on the Magic. Joel Embiid, who played for the first ten minutes, contributed to 20 of those points.
While Embiid cooled down in the second quarter and wrapped up the first half with 24 points, he caught fire once again, coming out in the second half as the Sixers trailed by ten points through the first two quarters.
As Philadelphia rallied for 47 points in the third quarter alone, Embiid led the charge as he put up 23 of those points. Embiid's contributions gave the Sixers a comfortable enough lead to keep him off the floor for the rest of the night. However, as the All-Star center was three points away from scoring 50, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers allowed him to achieve that goal for the second time in his career.
After checking in for 58 seconds in the final quarter, Embiid grabbed his 50th point. Then, he checked out for the rest of the night.
Being Joel Embiid
"It was amazing to watch," said Sixers' second-year guard Tyrese Maxey after the game. "I was messing with him before the game about who he was gonna be tonight. Shaq, Dirk? Because he can do everything. He was like, 'I'm gonna be Joel.' I was like, 'OK, you go be Joel then,' and that's what he did."
Being Joel Embiid means doing at all. Although the veteran center has been criticized in the past for sometimes trying to be too versatile, the Sixers superstar has always made it known he's going to score in different ways. On Wednesday night, it worked to perfection as Embiid drained over 70-percent of his shots and knocked down 15 of his 17 free throws to complete his 50-point performance.
"Whenever I want, I'm able to be Shaq, and whenever I want, I'm also able to be Dirk or Kobe or MJ or any guards, really," Embiid said following the game. "Shooting off the dribble or pull-ups or ball-handling, just a combination of everything offensively."
Embiid understands he has to do a lot more than score 50 points against the struggling Orlando Magic in January to earn the same respect as those he mentioned. But the Sixers center is motivated to do everything in his power to be consistently mentioned in the same sentence as those legends.
He's still got a lot left to accomplish, but Embiid is becoming more and more confident as he grows into the best version of himself.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.