Bothered by migraine earlier in the day, 76ers’ Joel Embiid was a headache for Knicks

Former Kansas center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, who missed shootaround because of a migraine headache, a symptom of the Bell’s Palsy that has plagued the 7-foot center the last couple weeks, was listed as questionable for Tuesday’s Game 5 first-round playoff contest against the New York Knicks because of an injured left knee.

Despite his many ailments, Embiid, last year’s NBA MVP, erupted for a triple-double (19 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and four blocks) in Philly’s 112-106 overtime victory in New York’s Madison Square Garden. It cut New York’s lead over Philly to three games to two in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.

Embiid — he confirmed to reporters he was not 100% after the game — became the fourth player in NBA playoff history to record 19-plus points, 16-plus rebounds, 10-plus assists, and 4-plus blocks in a single playoff game. The others: Ralph Sampson, David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

Earlier, in Game 3 of the series, Embiid scored 50 points. Embiid and Sixers teammate Tyrese Maxey (46 points and nine assists in 52 minutes in the OT win) became the third pair of teammates in NBA history to each have a 45-point game in the same postseason. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant of the 2019 Golden State Warriors and Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson of the 1995 Phoenix Suns were the other duos.

“I’m OK. We won. That’s all that counts,” Embiid, who played at KU one season (2013-14) before turning pro, told reporters after the game, referring to his health.

Embiid was able to play 48 minutes Tuesday, having the last laugh on Knicks fans who booed him every time he touched the ball. Embiid received a flagrant-one foul call for hitting Jalen Brunson in the face on a Brunson shot attempt in the first quarter. Earlier in the series Embiid received a flagrant-one for making contact with the legs of NY’s Mitchell Robinson.

“It usually gets me going in those situations,” Embiid said of fans booing him, “because you want to put yourself in those situations and kind of shut them up. But as long as you keep it basketball … they’ve been doing a great job supporting their team. They’ve been amazing. That’s why they’re the Knicks. They get hyped about everything and they’ve been doing a fantastic job.”

Of the atmosphere in New York, he said (as quoted by USA Today): “It’s not hostile. I love New York. New York is my favorite city in the world. I have a place here for the past five years. I just love New York. If I’ve got to be the punching bag and you hear a lot of ‘(bleep) Embiid,’ that’s OK. I love it.”

Embiid has a famous fan in ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, who said on the network: “This dude Joel Embiid is one of the greatest big men to have ever picked up a basketball. And if he were healthy, there would be religious conversation: Is this not the greatest big man we have ever seen in the history of basketball.”

Meanwhile, former Knicks forward Charles Oakley as reported by the New York Post said: “Everybody says he’s hurt. If you’re hurt, stay home and watch it on TV like everybody else is doing. I don’t want hear this, ‘I’m giving it my all.’ You’re a 7-footer shooting 3s. I mean, you stand out around the 3-point line, what the guards gonna do? So I think that, you know, they cry too much. All these guys in the league cry too much. He’s too big to be crying. I’m sorry I said about two years ago, he could be the next Wilt Chamberlain. I don’t know. He could be the next Dunkin’ Donut or somebody because he just cries.”

Embiid, by the way, wasn’t the only former Jayhawk to play a big role Tuesday in keeping the series alive.

Kelly Oubre, who missed the Sixers’ morning shootaround because of illness, had 14 points and four rebounds in 39 minutes. He also had the bucket in overtime that put the Sixers ahead for good.

“I feel like dogwater right now, but even dogs drink it,” Oubre said to reporters after the game. “I feel good. I’ve been drinking a lot of water. I really don’t like taking medicine. I didn’t take medicine. I probably should have.

“I feel OK. I’m going to give it my all, my heart and soul each and every time I step on the court. Fatigue was a factor. I had a little bruise on my leg from the least game. At the end of the day I’m doing whatever I can, scrap a little bit of whatever I can bring to the table to help us win. That was the goal tonight. I’m just happy to lean on my guys.”

Oubre played at KU during the 2014-15 season.