The Philadelphia 76ers (27-16) faced the Los Angeles Lakers (19-24) on the second night of a road back-to-back. Following a wild win over the Utah Jazz yesterday night, the Sixers went down to the wire with the Lakers and pulled out another close win, this time by a score of 113-112.

Let’s break down the Sixers’ win over the Lakers.

Sixers player notes:

Joel Embiid: 35 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 12-21 FG shooting

Embiid was too big for the Lakers to handle. He did a lot of his scoring at the hoop and the free-throw line. His chemistry with Harden was really cooking, as he did a great job finding open space for Harden to feed him. He scored on an array of mid-range jumpers and shots at the hoop.

Not to be outdone, he also did a strong job on defense by deterring shots and drives to the hoop. This was especially helpful against LeBron, who he switched onto a few times.

James Harden: 24 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists, 9-15 FG shooting

Harden got the ball to Embiid in his various spots with splendid precision while scoring the ball efficiently. Once again, he did a strong job of keeping his turnovers down and provided some much-needed offense down the stretch of a close game. His methodical drives to the hoop allowed him to score often.

Tyrese Maxey: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 6-13 FG shooting

Coming off the bench tonight, Maxey had a performance that I would call decent. Although he scored somewhat efficiently and seemingly took the move to the bench in stride, he couldn’t hold his own on defense, especially down the stretch of the fourth quarter. He did, though, hit some big shots to help the Sixers secure yet another one-point win.

Tobias Harris: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 7-13 FG shooting

Harris didn’t really get going until the third quarter but he came through with some huge moments. He got right to the hoop several times and hit a nice jumper over Westbrook. His defense wasn’t that impactful in my opinion but the scoring punch he added was just that (in spite of a cold 3-point shooting outing).

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Lakers player notes:

LeBron James: 33 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 15-23 FG shooting

James became the second NBA player ever to amass 38,000 total points, adding to a career that Doc Rivers heaped massive praise on. He needed 11 points to get it done and checked the accomplishment off his list in less than seven minutes of game time. The King barely broke a sweat as he attacked the hoop and made plays for his teammates with snappy, accurate dimes. He scored eight times on nine shots at the rim and was efficient from the midrange, too.

Russell Westbrook: 20 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists, 7-14 FG shooting

Westbrook was rarely denied shots at the rim in this one, as he proved to be too strong and quick for most of the Sixers’ defenders. The triple-double king diced up the defense with his quick passes and got the Lakers playing with a breakneck pace that gave Philly fits at numerous times.

Game notes:

1st half

  • Doc Rivers opted to move Tyrese Maxey to the bench in favor of Melton, who started alongside the usual four starters.
  • Harden and Embiid went right to work in their pick-and-roll to get the scoring started for the Sixers. Meanwhile, James carried the scoring load for the Lakers, tallying 12 of their first 20 points and assisting on a few other baskets, including on a long outlet pass to Westbrook.
  • Rivers practically invited the Lakers to retake the lead by going with Georges Niang and Montrezl Harrell in a lineup that featured James and Westbrook. Maxey and Milton hit some shots for Philly and although the bench unit had a tough time stopping LA’s dynamic duo, the Sixers never trailed by much.
  • Maxey’s move to the bench didn’t have much of an impact on his rhythm (partly because he still saw plenty of minutes with the starters). He made shots from all over in an efficient manner.
  • You know who else scored with ease? Embiid, of course. He scored on three straight possessions in the second quarter to push the Sixers lead. But the Lakers’ up-tempo attack got them back in it. They outscored the Sixers 11-2 in the final two and a half minutes of the second quarter.
  • The Sixers trailed 58-57 at halftime. The Lakers shot 13 percent better from the floor but the massive 3-point disparity (Philly’s modest 7-21 downtown shooting compared to LA’s paltry 1-8) kept the game close.

2nd half

  • The Sixers had a little pep in their step to start the second quarter. A stellar block from Embiid on Thomas Bryant and some bucks from Tobias Harris led to an LA timeout just two minutes into the half. Harris was able to get downhill a few times against the skinnier Troy Brown Jr.
  • The Lakers looked to the fastbreak time after time. They gave the Sixers some trouble there, as Philly found it hard to stop the ball when someone was able to get a great running start by the time they were at half-court.
  • Maxey was asked to lead a unit with Milton, Tucker, and ice-cold Niang and Harrell against a unit that featured James and Westbrook again. Harden was subbed in after just a few minutes for Milton, followed by Harris coming in for Tucker. The Beard assisted his quicker backcourt mate on a big dunk.
  • Harden had another big-time fourth quarter. He notched some. key assists while scoring in various ways. LeBron did the same, though, and neither team gained a lead of more than three points.
  • Niang, who shot just 2-6 from beyond the arc in this one, made a huge triple off of a pass from Embiid. He let the Lakers bench know about it, as he tends to do. On the previous possession, he made another key play by swinging the ball to Maxey, who found enough room in a tight window to score on a layup.
  • The Harden-Embiid two-man game got an open midrange jumper from Embiid to go up by four but Brown came back with a triple. Embiid missed a one-legged jumper and Westbrook came down looking to score but couldn’t get anything going on the big man. Sixers win.

Random thoughts:

  • I’m perfectly fine with Rivers tinkering with Maxey off the bench/Melton in the starting group but doing so against a Lakers team that employs Westbrook off the bench (who Melton would have seemingly guarded) is something I kinda question. Also, playing Tucker, Niang and Harrell together must stop. Now. Please.
  • Westbrook and James connected on the highlight of the night on a fastbreak alley-oop. Embiid’s poster dunk on Wenyen Gabriel was also fantastic.
  • The road trip starting out with two close games against inferior teams missing three starters each isn’t great. Still, wins are wins!

The Sixers will stay in the City of Angels and face the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.