The Los Angeles Lakers are on their first winning streak of the season, avenging their December loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in a 93-84 victory. Both teams came out flat to start the new year, but a strong second half from the Lakers gave the purple and gold a happy start to 2016.
Kobe Bryant sat out with a sore right shoulder, but Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson did their part in giving the perimeter rotation production. Williams scored a game-high 24 points on 6-of-15 shooting, with Clarkson chipping in 19 of his own. D'Angelo Russell struggled from the field, missing 11 of his 14 attempts, and ended the night with six points, five assists and four rebounds. He made several positive plays during a stretch that helped the Lakers pull away.
The Lakers pushed the pace in transition, taking advantage of a 76ers team that turned the ball over 16 times. Los Angeles scored 29 fastbreak points, getting easy opportunities at the rim. Julius Randle put on a dunking exhibition throughout the night, beating the Sixers up the court or off the dribble to get to the rim. His dunk off of an over-the-head pass from Russell was the highlight of the night, and was a fun sequence on a night that began like a pounding hangover. Randle scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half.
Philadelphia didn't make it easy for the Lakers, extending the game through the final minutes with intentional fouls, but they couldn't prevent their 32nd loss of the season. One win doesn't change much for the Lakers, but to start the year on a high note and not lose to the 76ers, it's one worth at least appreciating. It wasn't always pretty, but a few good stretches after halftime salvaged the experience.
On to the next one, with the Phoenix Suns visiting Los Angeles on Sunday. Enjoy the win streak!