NEW YORK - Joel Embiid is feeling more like himself.
After his production stalled in his last three games, Embiid had a bounce-back performance Sunday night against the Nets. With 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a monster block in only 26 minutes, the big man is getting back on track.
"I had more energy tonight," Embiid said following the Sixers' 120-97 win (see observations). "I played harder than I had been playing for the past three or four games. I felt better today and I wanted to do that - I wanted to come out and be aggressive."
Embiid reached 20 points for the first time in four games. He also shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first time this month. Embiid made a concerted effort to play more at the basket than trying to spread the floor and play on the wing.
"I feel like the past three or four games I was kind of hesitant in the offense and I felt like I wasn't getting the ball as much," Embiid said. "Today that was one of the main things. I've been spending a lot of time on the perimeter just to open up the offense. But tonight, I wanted to be aggressive, get down low, get deep post-ups and just be a beast down there. I thought I did a better job, but I still wasn't at the level that I should be at."
Embiid tried to maximize his size advantage against the Nets. They started 6-foot-11, 234-pound rookie Jarrett Allen on him and also tried 6-11, 255-pound former Sixer Jahlil Okafor on him at times.
"I thought he was dominant. He's a hard matchup for this team," Brett Brown said. "I thought he was extremely aggressive. I love when he tries to get deep catches in the paint and just find that balance of bullying his way into the game. I thought he had some big passes out of the post, really sophisticated passes."
Embiid scored all but two of his buckets in the paint compared to a more sporadic shot selection in Miami. Check out the glaring difference in Embiid's shot charts between Sunday's win over the Nets and Thursday's loss to the Heat, when he shot 5 for 18 from the field.
The Sixers did not hold shootaround Sunday morning ahead of the game. They still could rest Embiid; they are trying to get their high-minute players some breaks before the playoffs. The need to do so didn't seem as pressing Sunday, though.