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In front of NBA royalty, Joel Embiid hangs 50 on Knicks while battling Bell’s palsy

PHILADELPHIA — With Allen Iverson watching courtside, and Carmelo Anthony and his son Kiyan just a few feet to Iverson’s left, the Knicks and 76ers made NBA playoff history in Game 3 on Thursday.

Courtesy of the league’s reigning MVP.

76ers center Joel Embiid scored an historic 50 points to lead his team to victory on Thursday.

He joined former Portland Trail Blazers-turned Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard as the only players in NBA history to score 50 points, make five threes and shoot 65% from the field, 70% from three and 90% from the foul line in a playoff game.

Embiid shot 13-of-19 from the field, becoming the first player ever to score 50 points in a playoff game on fewer than 20 shot attempts.

He joined Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Cousy as the only players ever to score 50 points and attempt 20 or more free throws in a playoff game.

Embiid joined Iverson as the only 76ers in playoff history to score 50 points and hit five threes in a game.

He is the first center in NBA playoff history with 50 points and five threes in a game.

And he did it despite battling two health conditions, one of which he didn’t make public until after Game 3.

Embiid partially tore the meniscus in his left knee in a Jan. 30 loss to the Golden State Warriors and missed more than two months of action recovering from his surgery. He’s playing at limited capacity after re-injuring the meniscus in his final regular-season game against the Orlando Magic.

And then he started receiving treatments for a mild case of Bell’s palsy, which he says began after the Sixers’ Play-In Tournament victory over the Miami Heat.

Johns Hopkins Medicine defines the condition as “an unexplained episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis” that “begins suddenly and worsens over 48 hours,” resulting “from damage to the facial nerve.”

According to the website, there is “no known cure for Bell’s palsy; however, recovery usually begins 2 weeks to 6 months from the onset of the symptoms. Most people with Bell’s palsy recover full facial strength and expression.”

Embiid explained how he found out something was wrong.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, but obviously I guess that’s a normal thing. I think it started a day or two before the Miami game, and I had bad migraines and thought it was nothing,” he said after the Game 3 win. “But usually I don’t like to check it out, but for some reason I ended up, you having to tell somebody and yeah, that’s why that Miami game, it was just, my body, I was just not feeling it.

“I’m sure if you Google the symptoms, you know what it is. Yeah, it’s pretty annoying, you know, with, the left side of my face, my mouth and my eye. So yeah, it’s been tough, but I’m not a quitter, so gotta keep fighting, do anything, but yeah, it’s unfortunate. That’s the way I look at it. But it’s not an excuse. Gotta keep pushing.”

The condition didn’t stop him from posting a historic stat line against the Knicks.

“I just love playing the game. I just want to be on the floor as much as possible. I want to play as much as possible. I only got about maybe eight years left, so I gotta take as much, gotta enjoy it as much as possible,” he said. “I want to win. Like I said, I think going from the knee injury, I think mentally the stress, maybe might be part of it, but you know, like I’ve been saying, mentally it’s just been so draining, depressing … I need to take care of myself, mentally and physically.”


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