In their second game after the trade deadline, the Sixers kept rolling. This time it was the almighty LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in their way, but when you have a core four that doesn't matter. Playing his first game in Philadelphia since spurning the Sixers in the offseason to sign in LA, the fans made sure LeBron heard every one of those boos raining down in the Wells Fargo Center.
It wasn’t LeBron giving the Sixers fits early on in the game though, it was the guy he tried so desperately to move to New Orleans, Kyle Kuzma. An early 23 points for the young forward had the Lakers leading 40-39 after the first quarter. The Sixers kept pace though, thanks to the efforts from their new star, Tobias Harris. Shooting 6-for-7 from the field in the first quarter, Harris finished the first frame with 14 points.
Joel Embiid showed signs of breaking out of his one-game slump early on, and in the second quarter, he was back to the same old dominant center we all know and love. By the time the half rolled around, Embiid was leading the Sixers with 25 points and 8 rebounds. The other members of the new Core Four helped the cause as well — Harris had 14 in the first half and Jimmy Butler finished with 10 points in the first 24 minutes. It was a different story for Ben Simmons in this game though, as he routinely struggled to finish around the rim. It wasn’t all bad news for the point guard, however, as he was shooting the jump shot more than we’ve ever seen him before. They weren’t all going in, but attempting them is half the battle. By the time the half ended, the Sixers had taken a 76-67 lead.
The game took a backseat in the second half when all anyone could talk about was the 3-point shot heard around the world. Yes, Ben Simmons took his first real 3-point shot! It didn’t go in, but once again, taking the shot is half the battle. The Sixers controlled the rest of the game and did a great job defending LeBron James, forcing his teammates to come up big down the stretch. By the end of the third quarter, the Sixers lead had ballooned to 15 points, thanks to The Process who had 35 points with 12 minutes remaining.
The fourth quarter was spent trying to get the bench unit comfortable playing together as Mike Scott, James Ennis, and Boban Marjanovic played solid minutes in the final frame. Scott was able to find his stroke, finishing with 7 points. In a battle of two teams that refused to play defense, the Sixers came out on top by a final score of 143-120.
Joel Embiid led the way with 37 points and 14 rebounds, Tobias Harris finished with 22 points, and JJ Redick stayed hot with 21 points. For the Lakers, the offense had to run through Kyle Kuzma who ended the night with 39 points. LeBron wasn’t able to take over the game like he normally does due to great help defense by the entire Sixers roster. If you can hold the greatest basketball player of this generation to an 18-10-9 line, you win the game more often than not.
All in all, a great win against a team not playing up to expectations, but a blowout at home feels great no matter who you play. Next up are the Boston Celtics on national television on Tuesday night. The Wells Fargo Center is sure to be rocking.