Joel Embiid, Zion Williamson Wow NBA Twitter in Dynamic Battle as Pelicans Beat 76ers

Joel Embiid, Zion Williamson Wow NBA Twitter in Dynamic Battle as Pelicans Beat 76ers thumbnail

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) drives against Philadelphia 76ers forward P.J. Tucker and forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

In a clash of titans, it was Zion Williamson left standing at the expense of Joel Embiid.

The New Orleans Pelicans superstar went off for 36 points and five rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, leading his team to a 127-116 win.

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

JOSE ➡️ ZION 💪#Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Take it to em Z.

Bally Sports New Orleans @BallySportsNO

Z IS UNSTOPPABLE!!!💪@PelicansNBA | #Pelicans |📺:BSNO

Embiid didn’t exactly roll over without a fight. The superstar center had a vintage performance of his own, putting up 37 points and eight rebounds while trying to will his team to a tough road victory.

But the one-two punch of Williamson and CJ McCollum (42 points, career- and franchise-high 11 threes) was too much to overcome. McCollum was shooting fireballs from beyond the arc all night long:

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA


CJ McCollum with his 11th three of the game!

Up to 42 points 🔥

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

All 10 of CJ’s threes 🙌

Andrew Lopez @_Andrew_Lopez

Franchise record 11 3s for CJ McCollum.

He’s also got 42 now. That’s the most he’s scored as a Pel and the second time he’s had 40 as a Pel.

Will Guillory @WillGuillory

CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson are also the first Pelicans teammates in franchise history to go for 40+ points in back-to-back games.

Unsurprisingly, NBA Twitter enjoyed every moment of the showdown:

Paul Hudrick @PaulHudrick

If Zion is gonna hit midrange fadeaways you tip your cap. What a monster.

LeRob Perez @WorldWideWob

PJ Tucker is guarding Zion like a bag of bricks sitting in the middle of train tracks. Probably not going to derail it, but let’s just see what happens.

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Joel Embiid and C.J. McCollum are both putting on an offensive clinic from their respective positions.

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

update: Zion with no Embiid on the floor has been a very bad time for Philly

Spike Eskin @SpikeEskin

It feels like Embiid gets 15+ every first quarter.

Keith Pompey @PompeyOnSixers

McCollum in dang near close to being in video-game mode. Dude is up to 34 points.

Paul Hudrick @PaulHudrick

CJ McCollum is very good but this is wild.

Scott Kushner @ScottDKushner

The Pelicans offense is laughably good when CJ McCollum is on.

Amy Fadool Kane @amyfadoolNBCS

3J… I mean CJ McCollum with a career high 11 threes.

It was an incredibly impressive offensive showing from the Pelicans (23-12), especially without Brandon Ingram available because of a toe injury.

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For the Sixers (20-14), meanwhile, it was a second straight loss after an impressive eight-game winning streak.

The good news for the Sixers was that star guard Tyrese Maxey returned after a lengthy layoff. The bad news was that he struggled in his return, coming off the bench to post just nine points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field in 19 minutes. Some rust was to be expected, however, after missing over a month.

It didn’t help that James Harden had a particularly odd game, offering up a 20-point, 10-assist double-double but also added seven turnovers on the evening and only attempted eight shots from the field.

It may not have mattered had he played better. This night clearly belonged to Zion’s bulldozing drives into the lane and McCollum’s sniper-scope precision. Had the Sixers played a perfect game, maybe they could have overcome that duo’s offensive fireworks.

But they didn’t play a perfect game, and they left New Orleans with a loss.

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