December 8, 2017, 4:40 am
The Lakers earned a hard fought victory to end their five-game losing streak and start off their road trip on the right foot.
Los Angeles was aggressive from the onset, establishing an early 13-point lead and ending the first quarter with a 32-25 lead. Brandon Ingram led the Lakers from the beginning with 10 points, two assists, one rebounds and one block in the first quarter.
Lonzo Ball was assertive from the beginning as well with two points, two steals, one block, four assists and three rebounds. He had more influence on the first quarter of this game then he did in the entire last contest.
This Lakers maintained their high level of play throughout eventually extending their lead to 16 points late in the third. At that point Joel Embiid started taking over the game for the 76ers leading them the whole way back to eventually tie the game late in the fourth quarter. He was spectacular down the stretch as he demonstrated his remarkable skill set that includes 3-point range, free throw shooting, defensive prowess and Hakeem Olajuwon like foot work on the block. Embiid ended the game with 33 points, six assists, seven rebounds, one steal, five blocks and a plus-14 rating.
Embiid was joined by rookie phenom Ben Simmons who posted a monster triple-double with 12 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds and one block. He was also plus-9 on the evening but hurt his team with four turnovers in the second half.
One thing that really hurt the 76ers on the night was the disparity between bench performances — they were dominated by the Laker reserves 41-13. The only sub for Philadelphia to contribute a point was Richaun Holmes who finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two steals as well as multiple important plays down the stretch.
But this game was all about the young Lakers putting forth a strong effort and escaping with a much deserved victory. Unlike the game in Denver when they fell apart, the Lakers matched the 76ers punch for punch and may have learned a lot about themselves in the process. One thing that has been clear is that they have a team leader and closer in Ingram.
With 11 seconds to go the Lakers got the ball back and chose to forego a timeout. Ball and Ingram played a two man game resulting in an open shot for Ingram from 3-point range which he knocked down for the win. He finished with 21 points, six assists, seven rebounds, one block and a plus-5 rating. He struggled with his shot hitting only 7-of-21 from the floor and 5-of-10 from the line though he did convert 2-of-3 from 3-point range. The fact that he took the game-winning shot on a night where he was not shooting well showed growth, confidence and a lot of potential for Laker fans.
Los Angeles fans were really concerned about Ball going into the game after his worst game as a professional as well as the possibility of a lingering injury. He came out and assuaged all of their concerns with a huge performance netting 10 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, three steals, four blocks, zero turnovers and a plus-7 while also shooting a relatively efficient 5-of-11. He influenced the game with his seven defensive stats, was extremely efficient and made the game winning pass — this was exactly what the doctor ordered. Ball looked like the player from UCLA that the Lakers drafted No. 2 overall, pushing the ball in the open court and even converting on several attempts in the open court.
One major edge for the Lakers on the night was their bench performance led by Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Randle closed out the game guarding Embiid (because Brook Lopez was simply to slow of foot to contain the phenom) and did an excellent job. He made several vital plays on both ends that contributed to the victory and his ability to affect the game on the defensive end could be a key element in the improvement of the Laker franchise. Randle finished the game with 16 points, four assists, three rebounds, one steal and one block.
Clarkson made four 3-pointers off the bench and each one seemed to stop a 76er run or spark the Lakers. He contributed 16 points, one steal and two rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from 3-point distance.
This was a tremendous performance by the young Laker team across the board as they had seven players score in double figures on the night. Players and coaches seemed to answer when called upon including coach Luke Walton who made the key decisions to bench Lopez for Randle and allow the players to push the ball without calling a timeout on the final possession. Fans were delighted to watch the team grow as a whole and reinvigorate the organization going into the next game.
Stats and Observations
- The Lakers won despite atrocious free throw shooting as they made just 12-of-24 from the line compared to 16-of-21 for the 76ers.
- One thing that offset their terrible rate at the line was their excellent shooting from 3-point distance as Los Angeles converted 11-of-28 from deep (39.3 percent). Philadelphia also shot well from distance making 10-of-26 good for 38.5 percent. One play that exemplified this occurred in the first half when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a pair of free throws but got his own rebound and knocked down a 3-pointer for an unconventional 3-point play.
- Philadelphia, the leading rebounding team in the league, was not able to press their advantage on the evening breaking even with Los Angeles at 44 rebounds a piece.
- Another stat which has been telling for the Lakers has been their turnovers. On this night the Lakers committed only 12 miscues compared to 18 for the 76ers.
- Los Angeles was out shot on the evening 48.1 percent vs. 43.8 percent. However the Lakers were able to earn themselves 15 more shots from the field due to their efficiency as it pertained to turnovers and their hustle on the defensive end.
- The Lakers stole the ball 13 times vs. only three for the 76ers.
The Lakers head to Charlotte to take on the 9-14 Hornets on Saturday. They hope to maintain the growth and momentum they established in their tremendous win in Philadelphia.
They will face former Laker Dwight Howard who averages 15.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on the season.
The most interesting match-up in this game will be Ball against Kemba Walker who leads the Hornets with 22.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.3 3-pointers a game. He will test the young point guard with his quick first step and devastating cross-over dribble.