Embiid Posts 50 in Win; Giannis, Bucks Top Grizzlies
Joel Embiid took one of the hottest runs in his career to a whole different level on Wednesday night, tying a career-high with 50 points in the Philadelphia 76ers' 123-110 win over the Orlando Magic. The Sixers' star got that total in just 27 minutes, the quickest 50-point game in the shot clock era, while adding 12 rebounds and three blocks. He shot 17-of-23 from the floor and 15-of-17 from the free throw line, and the superstar was not even needed in the fourth quarter. He played just 58 seconds of the final frame, this after the home team outscored the Magic, 47-23, in the third quarter. Embiid joins Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in franchise history with multiple 50-point games. Tobias Harris added 21 points for the Sixers, who have won nine of their past 11 games. This big night for Embiid spoiled a career night for Mo Bamba, who had a career-high 32 points, including seven three-pointers, for Orlando, who has dropped 13 of their past 14.
The Milwaukee Bucks turned to the Greek Freak to power them to a quality home victory at the Fiserv Forum, as they got past the Memphis Grizzlies, 126-114. Giannis Antetkounmpo had 33 points and 15 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 27 in the Bucks' 28th victory. That moves them back in to fourth in the East, as they top a Grizzlies team that had won 12 of their past 13, but were playing without Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane, who dealt with an ankle injury and COVID protocols respectively. With that in play, Ja Morant had a big night with 33 points and 14 assists and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 29, but Memphis dropped the first game of their four-game road trip. They shot just 9-of-40 from beyond the arc, and you can blame the absence of Bane, who ranks sixth in the league with 131 three-pointers. The Bucks continue to show off the depth that got them a title last season, as Bobby Portis and George Hill scored 14 points apiece, helping the defending champs overcome their recent struggles with them dropping six of their past eight games.
Other key scores saw DeMar DeRozan post 30 points and seven assists to lead his shorthanded Chicago Bulls over the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-104. Kyrie Irving had 30 points as the Brooklyn Nets held off the Washington Wizards' rally for a 119-118 win. Aaron Gordon's late three-pointer gave the Denver Nuggets a thrilling 130-127 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. LaMelo Ball's triple-double of 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists powered the Charlotte Hornets on the road in a 111-102 win against the Boston Celtics. The Houston rockets rallied behind Garrison Mathews' 23 points to stun the Utah Jazz, 116-111. And Luka Doncic's season-high 41 points sent the Dallas Mavericks past the Toronto Raptors, 102-98.
Villanova, LSU Fall in Conference Upsets
The 11th-ranked Villanova Wildcats dropped a tough Big East matchup on their home floor Wednesday night, as Justin Lewis' late three-pointer gave the Marquette Golden Eagles a 57-54 road victory. The game-winner was his fifth three-point make of the night, coming with 11.5 seconds to play, all to snap the Wildcats' 29-game home winning streak. The hero of the night finished with 21 points, while Greg Elliott added 14 points, including four three-pointers of his own in the win. The Golden Eagles out-shot the Wildcats from three-point range overall with 13 makes from beyond the arc in their 13th victory. Eric Dixon led the Wildcats with 15 points and Justin Moore chipped in 13, but Nova dropped their fifth game of the season and are now 6-2 in Big East play.
The unranked Alabama Crimson Tide are looking to fight their way back in to the AP Polls following a 70-67 upset of the 13th-ranked LSU Tigers Wednesday night. Keon Ellis came up clutch with two big free throws with five seconds left, putting an end to the Tide's three-game losing streak. The Tigers rallied to make this thing close late, as they trailed by eight with just 1:07 to play, taking advantage of four missed free throws from Bama. Tari Eason led the rally for LSU and finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Murray had a big three-pointer late that was just not enough. Jaden Shackelford led the Crimson Tide with 26 points, four rebounds, and four steals, while Jahvon Quinerly added 17 points in their 12th victory. Murray finished with 19 points for the Tigers, who have now dropped two games in a row, and were playing without Xavier Pinson coming in to the game, as well as Darius Day, who left after playing 12 minutes.
Other key matchups saw the second-ranked Auburn Tigers finish with six players in double figures in an 83-60 rout of the Georgia Bulldogs. The 12th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats overcame shooting just 36.3% to hold off the Texas A&M Aggies, 64-58, on the road. And Jack Nunge scored 23 points as the 20th-ranked Xavier Musketeers held off DePaul, 68-67.
Reaves, Fox Lead Rangers Past Leafs; Avs Blank Ducks
The New York Rangers were powered by Ryan Reaves ending his own scoring drought with two goals, his first two since signing with the Rangers in the off-season, as they doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-3, at home. Adam Fox added two goals of his own with an assist and the Rangers used a three-goal third period to earn this win at Madison Square Garden. Chris Kreider added his 25th goal of the season, while Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist, and Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panarin added two assists of their own. All of that offense helped the Rangers overcome an early two-goal deficit for their seventh win in the past nine games, moving in to first place in the Metropolitan Division for this night. Igor Shesterkin wasn't as sharp as usual, but still had 35 saves, including 27 over the final two periods. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist, while Ilya Mikheyev and Michael Bunting each added a goal in the loss.
The Colorado Avalanche stayed hot with their point streak, proving that they can get it done away from home as well with a 2-0 shutout of the Anaheim Ducks. Pavel Francouz led the charge in net with 34 saves, earning his second-career shutout, both of which have come against the Ducks. Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who extended their point streak to 10 straight games. Francouz has overcome a delayed start to his season after missing two months with an ankle injury, going 5-1 with a 2.40 goals against average and a .922 save percentage this year. The win also marks the second straight road shutout for the first-place Avalanche, who blanked the Arizona Coyotes, 5-0, on January 15th behind Darcy Kuemper's 20 saves.
The only other game on the NHL schedule saw the Arizona Coyotes top the New Jersey Devils, 4-1, behind Lawson Crouse's goal and assist, as well as Karel Vejmelka's 35 saves.
Capitals' Dmitry Orlov Suspended
The Washington Capitals will be without defenseman Dmitry Orlov for a couple games, as he was suspended two games by the league on Wednesday for a kneeing infraction. This call comes after he was seen kneeing Winnipeg Jets forward, Nikolaj Ehlers, during their overtime win on Tuesday night. Orlov was not penalized for the incident during the game, but a hearing was held on Wednesday regarding it. Ehlers was injured on the play and is considered to be out indefinitely because of it, and Orlov went on to assist the game-winning goal in overtime just minutes later. He will miss games against the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators on Thursday and Saturday respectively, and the defenseman will forfeit $51,000 in salary. It is his second career suspension and first since 2014, when he was banned two games for boarding. The Capital blue-liner is averaging 21:01 of ice time over 38 games this season with five goals and 14 assists for 19 points.
Bucs' Bruce Arians Fined For Striking Player
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have come away with an easy rout of the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round last weekend, but it did not come without a little bit of controversy. That controversy was addressed on Wednesday afternoon when head coach Bruce Arians was fined $50,000 for striking safety Andrew Adams. This incident took place during a scuffle between the two teams, and Arians was attempting to move Adams from the pile. The safety was attempting to pull another player from the pile following a muffed punt from Jalen Reagor, but Reid was seen slapping Adams' helmet with an open hand and then elbowing him. The coach claimed that he did not regret what he did, but the league described it as "conduct directed towards your players that fell below standards expected of an NFL head coach."
Georgia's Bennett Returning, Daniels Transferring
Following a College Football Playoff National Championship just over a week ago, Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett announced on Wednesday that he is returning for one final season at the school. This move comes after Bennett took over for J.T. Daniels as the starter this past season, leading them past Michigan and Alabama in the Playoff to get their first National Championship since 1980. He did not have eye-popping stats, but did more than enough with 29 touchdowns and 2,862 yards passing, including 224 yards and two scores in the National Title victory. With this news, Daniels announced that he will be transferring away from the program. This will be the second time that Daniels has transferred, originally coming over from USC, where he started just three games due to an oblique injury. He took over for Bennett in 2020 due to a knee injury and threw for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading the team to a Peach Bowl win over Cincinnati.