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A tale of two centers: Jokic is trying to stay on top and Embiid is trying to stay on the court

Sport

A tale of two centers: Jokic is trying to stay on top and Embiid is trying to stay on the court
Sport

Sport

A tale of two centers: Jokic is trying to stay on top and Embiid is trying to stay on the court

2024-04-22 22:46 Last Updated At:22:50

NEW YORK (AP) — Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are the NBA's main men in the middle, the two centers combining for the last three MVP awards in the regular season with perhaps another coming soon.

It's in the postseason where their paths are so different.

Jokic cemented his place among the game's greats by leading the Denver Nuggets to last year's NBA title, and he appears intent on staying on top.

Embiid is just trying to stay on the court.

He rarely has been healthy enough to mount a real run at a championship and he's already at less than full strength just a game into this postseason.

Jokic will try to lead the Nuggets to a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, while the Philadelphia 76ers hope Embiid can help them tie up their series against the New York Knicks.

The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Orlando Magic in the other game Monday after winning the series opener.

Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds Saturday in Denver's 114-103 victory. He has scored 20 or more points in 20 consecutive playoff games.

“We see it all the time, man,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Nikola is a great player and the bigger the stage, the brighter the lights, he just continues to shine.”

Embiid seemed on his way to a dominant night against the Knicks before appearing to reinjure his surgically repaired left knee after throwing the ball off the backboard to himself and slamming it down late in the first half. Last season's MVP and scoring champion returned and finished with 29 points but appeared limited, going 2 for 11 after halftime and missing all five shots in the fourth quarter.

He has missed at least one game in each of the last three postseasons. But he returned after sitting out two months following Feb. 6 surgery to help the 76ers reach the playoffs, and his teammates weren't surprised he kept playing in pain in Game 1.

“He’s always a fighter, he’s always going to try to go out there and give his all for his team,” All-Star Tyrese Maxey said. “So if he’s able to go, if he thinks he can go, then he for sure will be out there.”

Donovan Mitchell had his own knee problems in the second half of the season, but he looked sharp with 30 points as Cleveland beat Orlando 97-83 on Saturday in a strong response after getting manhandled by the Knicks last year.

“That’s how the series is going to be,” said Mitchell, who was so anxious for Game 1 that he only got a few hours' sleep. “How do you respond? That’s been my message all year. We’re going to get beat up. We’re going to turn the ball over. We’re going to have bad possessions.

“We’re not going to make shots. Stuff like that’s going to happen. That was a great response.”

Cleveland leads 1-0. Game 2, 7 p.m. EDT, NBA TV/fubo

— NEED TO KNOW: The Cavs passed the first test. Bigger ones are coming. Lifted by a raucous crowd, Cleveland stood its ground when Orlando got feisty. Magic forward Franz Wagner’s rough play underneath led to some jawing, shoving and a pair of technical fouls. Expect the Magic to stay physical.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Orlando’s Paolo Banchero. The All-Star forward scored 24 points in his playoff debut, but it took him a while to get going. Banchero was way too careless with the ball, committing nine of Orlando’s 12 turnovers. The Cavs did a nice job running an extra defender at Banchero, forcing him into uncomfortable situations.

— INJURY WATCH: A week of rest seemed to do wonders for Mitchell, who was darting around with his usual burst and lift. It will be interesting to see how he looks with just one recovery day.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Magic guard Jalen Suggs. He’s got to try and contain Mitchell and provide something on offense following a 4-of-16 shooting performance that included 1 of 7 on 3s. At least he made a shot; Orlando’s other guards, Garry Harris, Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony, were a combined 0 for 17.

New York leads 1-0. Game 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT, TNT

— NEED TO KNOW: The 76ers forced All-Star Jalen Brunson into 8-for-26 shooting in Game 1 but other Knicks players made them pay. Deuce McBride made five 3-pointers, Josh Hart four and Bojan Bogdanovic three.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: The rebound battle. The Knicks go after offensive boards as hard as anybody, and they grabbed 23 in Game 1 en route to a 55-33 advantage overall and a 26-8 edge in second-chance points.

— INJURY WATCH: Embiid is again listed as questionable for Game 2. The Sixers cleared him to start in Game 1 after he went through his pregame workout and that may be the same plan Monday. Maxey was added to the injury report Monday morning, also listed as questionable with an illness after scoring 33 points in Game 1.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre Jr. Embiid needs help on the boards if he's limited, and the starting forwards' combined 12 rebounds were one fewer than Hart had himself.

Nuggets lead 1-0. Game 2, 10 p.m. EDT, TNT

— NEED TO KNOW: The Nuggets got off to a slow start to begin defense of the franchise’s first NBA championship, but they dominated the Lakers most of the night in their playoff opener, outscoring them by 10 points both on second chances and in the paint. They also outscored LA 21-14 on fast breaks. Although LeBron James (27) and Anthony Davis (32) combined for 59 points, James had a quiet second half and he committed seven of the Lakers’ 12 turnovers while the Nuggets had only four, including just one by their starters.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who missed 14 of 20 shots but seemed unbothered by that 30% shooting clip, saying he was thrilled to get that many shots off and figures a bigger percentage of them will fall in Game 2.

— INJURY WATCH: Lakers coach Darvin Ham said Sunday it's unclear when Christian Wood (knee) and Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) will be available to bolster a bench that saw just one player (Taurean Prince) score in Game 1. Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray, who missed seven games down the stretch with a balky knee, logged 39 minutes without any trouble in Game 1.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Los Angeles, which hasn’t beaten the Nuggets in almost 500 days. The Lakers have lost nine in a row to the Nuggets even though they’ve gotten to the line more than Denver did in all nine games, taking 204 free throw attempts during that streak to the Nuggets’ 130. On Saturday night, the Lakers were 17 of 19 from the stripe and Denver was just 5 of 6. Asked what he'd do to rectify the disparity, Malone cracked: “Why should we? We keep winning.” Seriously, though, Malone said it's not like his team just settles for jump shots. “But we went into this series knowing that they had a plus-500 differential this year.”

AP Sports Writers Pat Graham and Arnie Stapleton in Denver, and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) goes up to shoot against Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, during the second half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) goes up to shoot against Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, during the second half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) dunks past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the second half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) dunks past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the second half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) dunks against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) dunks against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and Kyle Lowry (7) react during the first half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and Kyle Lowry (7) react during the first half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

HOUSTON (AP) — As the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured the Houston area on Tuesday to assess the damage from last week’s deadly storms, local officials reassured residents still without power that their lights would be back on and they could soon begin rebuilding their lives.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said crews with CenterPoint Energy had been working hard to restore power to residents dealing with temperatures of about 90 degrees (32 Celsius) and heat indexes approaching 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

At the height of the power outages, nearly 1 million people in the Houston area were without electricity. By Tuesday evening, that was down to less than 95,000.

“We’re on top of it. No one is being neglected,” Whitmire said.

The widespread destruction of last Thursday’s storms left at least eight dead and brought much of Houston to a standstill. Thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds tore through the city, reducing businesses and other structures to piles of debris, uprooting trees and shattering glass from downtown skyscrapers. A tornado also touched down near the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress.

Some downtown streets remained closed as crews continued cleaning up glass as the strong winds damaged 3,250 windows on high-rise buildings. Officials said it could take months to repair all the windows.

The deadly winds tore through a wide swath of Harris County, where Houston is located, causing damage and knocking out the power in both lower income and wealthier neighborhoods.

Last week’s storms took place as the Houston area and several Texas counties to the north were still recovering from flooding caused by heavy rainfall in late April and early May.

FEMA has approved small business loans and federal disaster assistance, which can help pay for temporary housing and repairs, for both weather events.

More than 48,000 people in the affected counties that were declared disaster areas have already applied for assistance, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Tuesday. The agency has already issued more than $1 million in help to residents.

“We know that thousands in the region are still without power. So again, I encourage you to continue to check in on your loved ones, your neighbors, your vulnerable individuals in your communities and make sure that they’re OK,” Criswell said.

Lisa Reed, a teacher who lives in the Cloverleaf neighborhood in east Harris County, had been without power for four days before finally getting it back Monday evening.

“I felt exhilarated. It was real good to be just back in my own home,” Reed said.

But Reed said one of her daughters and her son, who both live nearby, were still without power on Tuesday. Even with the power back on, some of Reed’s neighbors were dealing with sparking wires and other electrical problems.

“It’s frustrating seeing people struggle. You wish you could do more,” she said. “Everyone doesn’t have the resources.”

Harris County Commissioner Lesley Briones, whose home still didn’t have power on Tuesday, said the deadly storms have had a severe impact on many lower-income residents.

In one area in the Spring Branch neighborhood in northwest Harris County, many damaged apartment complexes are “completely unlivable” with damaged roofs and debris that is not being cleaned up by landlords or owners. Briones said many of the families in these complexes are living paycheck to paycheck.

“The choice is to stay in these substandard, unlivable conditions or be homeless. And so, we are working actively on the long-term legal issues,” she said.

Michelle Hundley, a spokesperson for CenterPoint Energy, said the utility provider still expected to restore power to more than 90% of customers by Wednesday. If someone didn’t have power by Wednesday, it would most likely be due to damaged equipment at their home that the homeowner would need to fix.

“Certainly our linemen and all of our employees are very diligent in working to make sure that your electricity is up and running, and we will do the absolute best that we can,” Hundley said.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said some underserved communities might feel left out “because they see lights in nicer-looking neighborhoods go up. I just want to say you’re not forgotten. You’re not left behind.”

Authorities had initially reported the deadly storms were being blamed for at least seven deaths. On Sunday, authorities raised the total to eight to include a man who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after his power went out.

Follow Juan A. Lozano: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, fourth from left, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms the previous week at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, fourth from left, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms the previous week at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, right, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, right, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell talks to parents while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell talks to parents while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, center, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms at Spring Branch in Houston, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell joins Houston elected officials in a press conference regarding recovery and assistance after last week's storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at Fondé Community Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell joins Houston elected officials in a press conference regarding recovery and assistance after last week's storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at Fondé Community Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee uses a portable fan provided by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's staff while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee uses a portable fan provided by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's staff while visiting damaged Sinclair Elementary School, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

From front left, Francisco Sánchez Jr., associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Recovery & Resilience, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo visit Sinclair Elementary School after it was damaged by severe storms from the previous week, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

From front left, Francisco Sánchez Jr., associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Recovery & Resilience, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo visit Sinclair Elementary School after it was damaged by severe storms from the previous week, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Utility trucks line Grovewood Lane to assist recovery from last week's severe storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Utility trucks line Grovewood Lane to assist recovery from last week's severe storms, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Timbergrove in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

People affected by recent severe storms wait in line for assistance at a FEMA mobile unit Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch Family Development Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

People affected by recent severe storms wait in line for assistance at a FEMA mobile unit Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch Family Development Center in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, blue FEMA hat, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, to her right, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones, to her left, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, blue FEMA hat, visits an apartment complex damaged by severe storms with Houston Mayor John Whitmire, to her right, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones, to her left, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at Spring Branch in Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Lisa Reed, a teacher, sits outside her home in the Harris County neighborhood of Cloverleaf near Houston on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Reed said she sat outside because it was too hot to be inside since her home was still without electricity because of last week's storms in the Houston area. The powerful storms knocked down a tree in Reed's front yard, smashing it through the windshield of a family truck. (AP Photo/ Juan A. Lozano)

Lisa Reed, a teacher, sits outside her home in the Harris County neighborhood of Cloverleaf near Houston on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Reed said she sat outside because it was too hot to be inside since her home was still without electricity because of last week's storms in the Houston area. The powerful storms knocked down a tree in Reed's front yard, smashing it through the windshield of a family truck. (AP Photo/ Juan A. Lozano)

FILE - Glass falls from above as workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

FILE - Glass falls from above as workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

FILE - Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

FILE - Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, file)

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