The Los Angeles Lakers went wire-to-wire on the Philadelphia 76ers in a 100-89 victory. Things started off quick for the purple and gold for once, with a 13-0 run to open the game. Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell were locked in early, and the eight game losing streak came to an end Friday night.
The Lakers carried their strong start into the third quarter, but a careless stretch to close out the period allowed Philadelphia to cut a huge lead down to 10 points heading into the fourth quarter. What was a few scoring possessions away from being a guaranteed garbage time shootout turned into a competitive battle until the final buzzer. Randle hit the dagger with less than a minute left to save what was becoming an ugly collapse.
Julius set the tone in the first quarter, coming up with board after board. It was a Laker taking advantage of an opponent’s lack of interior defense for a change as Randle went inside for bucket after bucket to score a season-high 25 points on an efficient 10-of-13 shooting. He also grabbed nine rebounds and dished four assists.
This was clearly Russell’s best game since returning from his knee procedure, ending the night with 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. He applied pressure on the 76ers early, making for a devastating one-two-punch with Julius. Russell was rolling, Randle was roaring and the Lakers looked a bit more like they did to start the year.
Larry Nance, Jr.’s interior defense was impressive as he swatted away two shots, providing some much-needed rim protection. His rebounding performance was stupendous in the second half, grabbing 11 boards on the night. Jordan Clarkson scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, while Lou Williams did his usual thing with 18 points off the bench. Five Lakers reached double-figures in scoring.
Philadelphia looked like the disorganized out-of-its-element team instead of the Lakers on this night, though Joel Embiid was impressive in his 15-point outing. A Lakers win certainly felt good, even if they started to stumble over themselves down the stretch. It was an overall solid performance with plenty to build on going forward.
Los Angeles travels to Cleveland to face LeBron James and the Cavaliers Saturday afternoon. A little momentum certainly won’t be a bad thing.