Tonight was a titanic contest from a tanking perspective, with both teams having large incentives to lose. For the Lakers, they could establish pole position on the Philadelphia 76ers for the third best lottery odds, and the Sixers could do the same, in addition to pushing the Lakers closer to the outside of the top five selections, in which case they would have to send their selection to Philadelphia. For three quarters, the Lakers looked like they were ready to aid in the franchise's future, but a fourth quarter in which they outscored Philadelphia 27-12 had the team leaving Staples Center with a 101-87 win.
The first quarter was... not well played basketball. Jeremy Lin dribbled into a shot clock violation, numerous Philadelphia shots hit the side of the backboard, and Wesley Johnson version 5,486 missed 3 of his 4 shots. The Lakers shot 42.9% from the field to the Sixers 31.8%, but trailed 20-18 after one because they turned the ball over 5 times to the Sixers 1. Jordan Clarkson also picked up two early offensive fouls, forcing the rookie to the bench.
Towards the end of the first quarter and bleeding into the second, Philadelphia went on a 15-2 run to take an early 26-18 lead, forcing a Lakers timeout. Almost immediately afterward, Lin hit back to back three pointers to bring the Lakers back within 4, 30-26. The Lakers were unable to get closer than that, and ended the half trailing 47-41. The team would have trailed even more if not for the perfection of Jordan Hill, who made all 6 of his shots for 12 first half points to go with his 5 rebounds. Thomas Robinson led the way for Philadelphia, scoring 10 points on 5-6 shooting with 4 rebounds, marking the first time in NBA history saying a player "looked like Jordan Hill" was meant as a compliment.
The Lakers began the third quarter on an 10-1 run behind shot making from Johnson and Jordan Clarkson, taking a 51-48 lead before a Sixers timeout. The Sixers rebuilt their lead to 74-67 despite Nerlens Noel leaving midway through with an apparent facial injury, but a Jeremy Lin led 7-1 run by the Lakers left the team trailing 75-74 entering the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Lin and Ed Davis exploded inside the Lakers tank, with Davis blocking and/or dunkingeverything in site, and Lin knocking down shot after shot when he wasn't spoon feeding someone for a jam. The Sixers ultimately had no answer for the duo (treating them as a rhetorical question if we are being honest), and would go on to lose 101-87.
It is hard to call them "heroes of the game", given how potentially catastrophic this win was to the team's lottery odds, but Lin (29 points on 16 shots with 5 points, 5 assists, and a plus-minus rating of +10) and Davis (8 points on 8 shots with 11 rebounds and 4 blocks), alongside the aforementioned Jordan Hill (12 points on 7 shots and 8 rebounds) were the best players on the floor tonight. Jordan Clarkson struggled (8 points on 8 shots with 4 turnovers), and was benched for the majority of the fourth quarter, because why develop a young player who may remain with the team when you can play three likely outgoing free agents?
Tonight's win was disappointing, but the Lakers will surely look to continue their roll on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.