Joel Embiid was scratched late Wednesday night in New Orleans for the opener of the Sixers’ road trip.
Embiid, who hadn’t appeared on the NBA’s official injury report until 7:30 p.m ET, was ultimately listed as out because of an illness.
As they had last Wednesday against the Timberwolves, the Sixers started small-ball center Marcus Morris Sr. in Embiid’s place. That move again didn't pan out; the Sixers fell into a big hole and suffered a 124-114 loss without their superstar center.
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In addition to Embiid, the Sixers were down Jaden Springer (illness), Kelly Oubre Jr. (fractured rib) and Danuel House Jr. (left quad contusion). The Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III, Larry Nance Jr. and Matt Ryan were sidelined. CJ McCollum returned to New Orleans’ lineup following a 12-game absence with a collapsed lung and posted 20 points.
Embiid had appeared in 16 of the Sixers’ first 17 games and averaged a league-leading 32.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists. His passing was especially impressive Monday night in a 30-point triple-double performance vs. the Lakers.
Thanks in large part to Tyrese Maxey’s excellence, the Sixers entered Wednesday’s game with a plus-8.7 net rating in Embiid-less minutes, per Cleaning the Glass. Though Maxey scored 33 points in New Orleans, Zion Williamson posted the same number much more efficiently (11 for 12 from both the field and foul line) and the Pelicans dominated most of the night.
A Friday night matchup against the Eastern Conference-leading, 14-4 Celtics is next on the 12-6 Sixers' schedule. They'll then have a short break before playing two games during the week of the NBA's in-season tournament knockout rounds — Dec. 6 at the Wizards and Dec. 8 vs. the Hawks.