To no surprise, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid stood out on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns. With his team shorthanded, missing three out of five starters, Embiid did all he could to keep the Sixers alive.
In 32 minutes of action, Embiid knocked down 14 of his 23 field-goal attempts and hit on seven of his nine free throws putting up a total of 38 points. Although he accounted for a game-high of points, the Sixers still took on a three-point loss through four quarters.
But the big man died hard on Wednesday night and nearly sent the game into overtime with what almost became the shot of the year. Embiid knocked down a 25-foot three-point jumper to get his team within three points with seven seconds left to go in the game.
As expected, the Sixers immediately fouled the Suns, which resulted in two more points for Phoenix. All hope wasn't lost for Philly, though. As Furkan Korkmaz hit another clutch three-point shot with two seconds on the clock, the Sixers came back within two points before fouling Suns' star, Chris Paul.
Paul made his first shot with ease. However, his second shot didn't go in. Embiid grabbed the rebound and quickly tossed a one-handed prayer nearly 70-feet away from the basket and almost drained it. The Suns were relieved the shot missed, and after the game, a couple of the players on the winning team reacted.
“I was [trying to make that shot]," said Suns point guard Chris Paul. "If you’re up three, you always wanna make the free throw to go up four. I didn’t miss it on purpose. Then that shot, that was in and out -- I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Embiid surely would've had one of the best buzzer-beater shots in NBA history had he got that one to fall. Unfortunately, there was too much power in the throw, and the ball bounced in and out quickly, killing the Sixers' hopes of forcing overtime.
“Bro, he almost made that!" said Suns veteran Mikal Bridges. "I told him after he hit the three I was like, ‘You just gotta make that shot? Why can’t the game just end? You have to hit that?’ He’s just really talented, man. He’s an unbelievable player. That was crazy. If he would’ve made that, I don’t know how I would react. That was crazy."
Fortunately for Phoenix, they didn't have to react in any way other than celebrating their big win on the road. While the Sixers were certainly shorthanded, the Suns won't complain about picking up their 42nd win on the year over a solid team in one of the toughest environments in the NBA.