By Mike Cranston
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 25 points and 10 rebounds and got the better of Andre Drummond down the stretch in a matchup of trash-talking big men to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 108-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
Embiid drew the fifth and sixth fouls on Drummond and drew cheers as he waved goodbye to his fouled-out rival in between hitting four free throws to put Philadelphia ahead 100-95 with 2:35 left.
Robert Covington added 25 points, and Dario Saric had 17 points and hit a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to put the Sixers ahead 103-95 in a game where the centers were the story.
Embiid and Drummond have been trading insults since the Sixers won in Detroit on Oct. 23. Drummond’s dunk with 10:04 left gave Detroit its first lead since the first quarter. He added a tip-in and two free throws before Embiid got the upper hand.
Drummond had 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and five steals. Tobias Harris scored 27 points, and Reggie Jackson had 25 points for the Pistons. They trailed by 18 points early in the third quarter.
Embiid’s fadeaway to start the third quarter seemed to put the Sixers in control. But they were outscored 33-15 the rest of the period. Embiid missed a dunk and had one of his six turnovers sandwiched between Luke Kennard’s tying 3-pointer.
Embiid, known to needle opponents, had 30 points and nine rebounds in a 97-86 victory in Detroit to end the Sixers’ 0-3 start. Embiid bragged that he dominated Drummond despite the Detroit center’s trash talk and said Drummond “doesn’t play defense.”
Drummond responded with the tweet, “See you Dec. 2nd.”
Embiid kept it going at the morning shootaround saying of Drummond, “No disrespect, but he can’t shoot.”
Drummond wouldn’t speak to reporters in the locker room before the game, but told Fox Sports Detroit, “You can’t really have a conversation with a man who can’t play a back-to-back” and “when he can play a whole season without taking a rest, he can come talk to me.”
Embiid missed his first two NBA seasons with injuries and played in only 31 games last season before knee surgery. He’s yet to be cleared to play on consecutive nights and sat out Thursday’s loss at Boston.
Drummond has played in all but three games in the past five seasons, and grabbed 17 rebounds a night earlier in a loss at Washington.
Pistons: The Pistons were twice called for a 5-second inbounding violation, including while trailing by five with 6 seconds left. … The Pontiac Silverdome, home of the Pistons from 1978-88, will be demolished Sunday morning.
76ers: Covington, who was 4 of 24 from 3-point range in the previous three games, hit 6 of 13 from long range. … Backup PG T.J. McConnell (left shoulder) missed his second straight game. … Fans chanted “MVP!” as former Sixers great Allen Iverson was introduced before tipoff.
Pistons: At San Antonio on Monday night.
76ers: Host Phoenix on Monday night.
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