The Lakers couldn’t take care of business against the 76ers and fell in Philadelphia on Friday. Despite some crunch-time heroics to force OT after trailing by double digits, the team no-showed overtime to eventually lose 133-122.
This is the team’s third loss in a row, and drops them to 10-15 overall.
Austin Reaves had 25 points on 9-15 shooting, and LeBron added his own 23 points, but Joel Embiid was too dominant with 38 points and 12 rebounds, while De’Anthony Melton had the best scoring game of his NBA life, pouring in a career-high 33 points to help drive Philly to victory.
With the return of James, Anthony Davis, and Patrick Beverley, the Lakers implemented the trio back into the starting five. Ham suggested that this is his go-to starting lineup, with Russell Westbrook being the first option off the bench. This unit started three games together and started well in Philadelphia. Lonnie Walker IV was hot, scoring five points in the quarter; LeBron and AD scored early baskets, and even Beverley was effective, grabbing rebounds and taking charges.
Unfortunately, Davis got in foul trouble thanks to Embiid doing what Embiid does, and AD getting a little too risky reaching in. He had three fouls in seven minutes and had to sit out the remainder of the first. The Sixers went on a 6-0 run with AD out and ended the quarter up by nine.
With the Sixers in complete control and at home, the Lakers had some work to do. Ham trusted AD and that trust was rewarded with AD playing for seven minutes and not adding to his foul total. The standout star of the quarter though, was Reaves.
Reaves has been the model of quality and consistency, continuing to progress in his career, growing into a more prominent role and is the only Laker not to miss a game this season. In the second, he scored 12 points and helped the Lakers close the gap and to get back into the game down by just two at the half. On a team asking for solid guard play, Reaves has answered that call.
In the third, the Lakers' second-half woes reared their ugly head when the Sixers went on an 11-0 run to close out the quarter up 93-83. The Lakers just couldn’t overcome Davis’ foul trouble and no one could step up and help guard Embiid, who had 31 after three.
Down by ten going into the fourth, hope was slim to none that the Lakers could pull off the victory on the road. With an opportunity to close out the game, Philly tried to slam the door shut. They went on a 9-2 run to start the fourth, but the Lakers never fully gave up, and 18 points in the fourth and buckets from James and Westbrook cut the deficit to five with just a minute remaining. Little did we know that minute would be chaotic, to say the least.
Melton hit a key three to give the Sixers a cushion, but the Lakers battled some more, with Beverly and Reaves hitting threes and Davis hitting back-to-back free throws. Melton went to the line and split the pair giving the Lakers possession down by three. Reaves was fouled shooting a three and hit only two, giving the Sixers the ball up one.
So game over, right? Nope! Philadelphia failed to inbound the ball, and Davis was fouled attempting a basket near the rim. He split the pair and this game went to overtime. He — and the team — ended up feeling the sting of him not just ending the game there.
The game was just as chaotic in OT as it was in the closing minutes of the fourth. The pace was frenetic, the turnovers were plentiful and we had multiple plays challenged. Unfortunately, the Lakers' offense never showed up and Philadelphia scored 12 points unanswered to start the extra period, finally putting the Lakers away for good.
To win basketball games against good teams, this current iteration of the Lakers has to be perfect. No one can have a bad game; keep turnovers low and dominate the boards. The Lakers failed on all three aspects tonight and are now hoping to end this road trip at .500 with a win on Sunday against Detroit. That has to be a disappointing best-case scenario when the team started this trip with back-to-back wins, but a few injuries and the flu, and here we are. This team can’t afford any bad luck — even in a game where they were nearly gifted a win — and with a quarter of the season gone, time to right wrongs is running out.