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Joel Embiid, Chris Paul

Getty Sixers star Joel Embiid scored 34 points in a losing effort to Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns on February 8, 2022.

The Philadelphia 76ers took the best team in the NBA down to the wire on Tuesday night. If not for a few fourth-quarter gaffes, they probably would have sent the Phoenix Suns back to the desert with a loss.

Instead, the Sixers left the Wells Fargo Center on the wrong end of a 114-109 scoreboard. Joel Embiid tallied a team-high 34 points, with Tobias Harris chipping in 30. Both players made costly turnovers in the final 3:36 – two bone-headed plays that Embiid and Harris took full ownership for in their post-game press conferences – but the specter of Ben Simmons hung over the room with the NBA trade deadline less than 48 hours away.

Tyrese Haliburton and CJ McCollum have already changed their zip codes. Bradley Beal is out for the rest of the season. Damian Lillard is rehabbing from surgery. And James Harden is sitting on the bench in Brooklyn. What are the Sixers going to do on February 10? No one knows, least of whom the players in the Sixers’ locker room.

“I don’t know. I’m not the GM. I’m not the coach,” Embiid told reporters. “I don’t know what they think we need but all I know is I’m on the court, we just play basketball. We’ve been playing well, obviously tonight was a tough loss, but we had a chance to win that game.

“We’ve been playing well, and everybody has been doing their job on most nights. I like the challenge; I want to go out there every single night and see how much better I can get and what I can do to help us win games.”

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Embiid Would Welcome Simmons Back, Not Babysit

Embiid has been very clear from the start: he’s not here to babysit anyone. Especially not a player making $33 million per year. The 7-footer expressed that to reporters back in October after Simmons was hit with a one-game suspension for lollygagging it at Sixers practice.

Four months later, Embiid’s stance hasn’t changed. He’s not going to babysit Simmons or anyone else on the roster. The MVP candidate prefers to lead by challenging his teammates when they underperform (see: Tyrese Maxey’s “trash” game) and expects the same level of accountability hurled back at him.

“I don’t know what other type of word I can use; I get paid to bring results and win games,” Embiid said. “I don’t get paid to babysit Tyrese [Maxey]. I get paid to challenge him, to try and help me win games. I get paid to do the same thing to Tobias [Harris] and all the other guys and they respond to it. Every single time.”

Embiid went on to say that he won’t be reaching out to Simmons to extend an olive branch. Or offer an apology. It’s on the disgruntled point guard to show up and be a good teammate. If he does that, all is forgotten.

“Anybody’s welcome to play,” Embiid said. “And, you know, if you want to part of us then I’m sure everybody’s going to be fine with it. But you got to show up, you got to want to be there, and I’m sure everybody’s going to accept whoever that is.”

Sixers Get Two Days Off, Host Thunder

Philadelphia gets two days off to recover from Tuesday’s loss. How much rest they’ll get is anyone’s guess as trade rumors continue to whip around the NBA landscape. Some players went to bed wondering if they played their final game in a Sixers’ uniform.

“I know our guys are NBA players and all that, but they’re human,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “I can’t imagine the amount of names that have been thrown in. So, every single guy goes to bed tonight thinking this may be his last night. That’s tough. It really is.”

The Sixers return to action on Friday (February 11) at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. The trade deadline will be in the rear-view mirror and whichever players are left standing will be Rivers’ group to coach for the rest of the year.

Source: Heavy

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