Brett Brown: Joel Embiid has 'a lot on his shoulders,' fatigued late in Pacers loss

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After a dominant start by Joel Embiid on Friday night, one that had him entering the locker room at halftime with 28 points and 14 rebounds, things turned south for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Indiana Pacers rallied back in the second half to beat the 76ers 113-101 at the Wells Fargo Center behind a big third-quarter push, nullifying the big night Embiid had built up.

While he still finished with an impressive stat line — Embiid dropped a game-high 40 points and 21 rebounds, shooting 13-of-22 from the field — coach Brett Brown said he noticed a big change in his star center in the second half: He was tired.

“I feel like it’s a product of he’s really got a lot on his shoulders, you know, as far as the weight of our expectations on him, and he certainly expended a lot of energy in the first half,” Brown told ESPN after the game. “But I did feel like he fatigued, and I give some of that credit to Indiana because of how physical they were in the second half.”

Embiid has been frustrated with his play lately — specifically after the 76ers made the trade for Jimmy Butler last month. He was held out of their game against the Detroit Pistons last week simply so he could rest following a rough shooting night the game before. He also said he isn’t happy with the way he’s being used since Butler joined the team, and that it’s been an adjustment for him to get used to.

The 24-year-old, though, wasn’t exactly positive why he struggled in the second half.

“It wasn’t enough. I guess next time I’ve got to get 50 and 25,” Embiid told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It doesn’t matter what I had or whatever, at the end of the day we didn’t come up with the win.”

The 76ers have now lost three of their last five games, although they have been without Butler, who suffered a groin injury on Monday and has been sidelined since.

Though Friday’s loss wasn’t the end of the world by any means — Philadelphia is still solidly in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and there are still several months left in the regular season — Embiid said they still have work to do as a team to find the right groove.

“It’s still early,” Embiid told ESPN. “We are still learning how to play with each other. We just have to figure out each other’s tendencies, like where one likes to have the ball and likes to operate, but it’s fine. It’s great. We had been winning … the last two games, they were just unfortunate.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. We all have the same goal, and it’s to win the championship. That’s what we are all about.”

Though he dropped 40 points and 21 rebounds, coach Brett Brown said Joel Embiid looked fatigued late in their loss to the Pacers on Friday. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)
Though he dropped 40 points and 21 rebounds, coach Brett Brown said Joel Embiid looked fatigued late in their loss to the Pacers on Friday. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

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