Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid put up monstrous numbers against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night and after the game admitted that he was motivated by going head-to-head against Rudy Gobert. Embiid scored a game-high 40 points and had 19 rebounds as the Sixers claimed a 131-123 overtime win over the Jazz With 6.5 seconds to go in regulation, Embiid knocked down a game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
"As we saw tonight, it looks like I was very, very scared of him," Embiid said, his voice dripping in sarcasm, per ESPN. "So, yeah, keep talking. "But going up against him, one of my goals is to also be Defensive Player of the Year.
So, you know, when you go up against those types of guys, he's a great player, and you know, he does a lot for his team that don't show up on the stat sheet ... but when you go against those guys, you know, it brings something else to my game.
"I want to dominate. On the offensive end, but mainly on the defensive end, because that's the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year ... those are the matchups that you want to go out there and just dominate and prove to everybody that, as a team, that we have a great team, and, individually, you should be up there when it comes to those rankings and stuff."
Embiid eyes big accolades
Embiid is currently an MVP candidate and he would also like to win the Defensive Player of the Year. Gobert is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and that's one of the reasons why Embiid was so motivated against the Jazz center.
"That's pretty fair," Embiid said. "But what motivates me is to win the game. Without winning, you know, you're not part of those conversations when it comes to Defensive Player of the Year and MVP and all that stuff.
That's the first thing. I want to win. That's all I care about. "The past is the past. It's unfortunate the way things happened last year when I wasn't on there ... it plays a huge role in my mentality this year, just wanting to destroy everything in my path.
I'm playing against a lot of great players every single night. They're really good at what they do. But wherever I'm needed to get the job done, defensively and offensively, that's what I've got to do."