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Sixers sweep back-to-back in anxiety-inducing fashion vs. Lakers

Behind Joel Embiid and James Harden, the Sixers escaped L.A. with yet another nail-biting win over the Lakers Sunday.

Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Sixers swept their weekend back-to-back, winning a 113-112 nail-biter over the L.A. Lakers Sunday. LeBron James and Joel Embiid both scored 35 points on the night, but the Sixers were able to cause a turnover off Russell Westbrook to hang on to the win.

With everyone healthy and suited up for the 76ers, there was more tinkering with the starting lineup as De’Anthony Melton started in place of Tyrese Maxey. The win moves the Sixers to 2-0 on the current road trip and 27-16 on the season.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • Just like last night, Philly was off to a hot start offensively. Their pick-and-roll actions were getting them easy looks the entire quarter, whether it was Joel Embiid and James Harden or Shake Milton and Montrezl Harrell. Embiid had 14 of his x in the opening frame, as these scoring bursts are starting to feel old hat.
  • The Lakers’ offense similarly got whatever they wanted in the first quarter. LeBron James scored or assisted on 18 of L.A.’s first 20 points. The Sixers were able to hold a one-point lead after the first despite the Lakers shooting 64 percent from the field to start the game.

Second Quarter

  • Doc Rivers tinkered with his rotations a lot more tonight than he has in the past month. Now Tobias Harris dealing with a knee issue on the second half of a back-to-back likely played a big factor, but it’s still worth examining. Philly ran the three-guard lineup along with Harris and Embiid for about five minutes, and this lineup was the best minutes the Sixers played during the half.
  • The offense started to clog up when P.J. Tucker replaced Tyrese Maxey, as they turned the ball over on the following two possessions. The Lakers ended the half on an 11-3 run to give themselves a one-point lead at the break.
  • The frustrating last three minutes of the half was capped off by needlessly fouling Russell Westbrook just three seconds before the quarter ended.

Third Quarter

  • It was curious to see the Sixers defend Russell Westbrook so aggressively at the three-point line. Westbrook caught Maxey’s hand in the cookie jar for a four-point play. In classic Westbrook fashion, he’d finish with a 20-14-14 triple-double.
  • After an eight-point spurt from Tobias Harris, the Sixers’ offense stalled out for most of the third. Joel Embiid posterizing Wenyen Gabriel Jr. seemed to turn things around, as the Sixers were able to go back ahead by three.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Lakers destroyed Philly in the points in the paint category and it wasn’t hard to see why. James and Westbrook absolutely torched the second unit front court of Niang and Harrell. L.A. won the category 70-52 on the night.
  • For the second straight night, James Harden was excellent down the stretch. He scored or assisted 17 of Philly’s final 24 points of the game. They sealed the game just like last night, with a pick-and-pop ending in an Embiid jumper.
  • The Sixers will remain in L.A., only this time it’s the Clippers they’ll be taking on, this Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST.

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