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The Weekly Run It Back: Sixers find success in the West

Couldn’t stay up for the late-night tipoffs? Busy watching football? No problem, we have your back.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Run It Back! In this weekly series, we will summarize the week overall and recap each Sixers’ game from the previous week (Sunday to Saturday).

The Sixers went west this week for the last four games of a five-game road trip. The week kicked off with a new attitude toward the starting lineup from head coach Doc Rivers: going forward, the Sixers will use three different lineups depending on matchups. Rivers put this to practice right away, starting De’Anthony Melton over Tyrese Maxey on Sunday night. The Sixers rolled with that same lineup again on Tuesday and Thursday, only mixing it up on Saturday due to James Harden and Joel Embiid being ruled out, so it remains to be seen how much Rivers plans to rotate starting fives with everyone available.

The Sixers kicked off the week Sunday night with their second consecutive one-point victory in a contest with the Lakers that came down to the wire. Things were a bit more comfortable mid-week, with Philadelphia posting 10-point wins over both the Clippers and the Trailblazers. The Sixers closed out the week with a come-from-behind victory over the Kings, overcoming a 21-point deficit, with Embiid and Harden both out for injury management.

The five-game roadtrip sweep takes the Sixers to 30-16 on the season, climbing to second in the East.

Couldn’t quite stay awake for the late night starts? No problem, we have you covered.

Sixers at Los Angeles Lakers - Sunday, Jan. 15

Result: W, 113-112

Bell Ringer: James Harden

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers edged the Lakers by the skin of their teeth for their second consecutive one-point victory. Rivers shook things up for the starting lineup with everyone healthy and available, tagging in De’Anthony Melton for the initial five and leaving Maxey to come in off the bench. But not to worry, Maxey fans, he still played 30+ minutes, just a different 30 minutes. He posted 16 points on Sunday night, while Embiid and Harden continued to find success in their dominant partnership. Embiid led the Sixers with 35 points and 11 rebounds, while Harden posted another double-double with 24 points and 13 assists.

This one was close the entire game, right up to the final, anxiety-inducing seconds. The Lakers had the ball in Russel Westbrook’s hands and two timeouts with 15 seconds left to steal the win from the Sixers, but opted to charge forward with their final possession without pause. Closely defended by Embiid, Westbrook nearly lost his dribble with five seconds to go and ultimately turned over the ball with time expiring. The Lakers never got a shot off, allowing the Sixers to walk away with another razor-thin victory.

Sixers at Los Angeles Clippers - Tuesday, Jan. 17

Result: W, 120-110

Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers — well, Joel Embiid — got off to a hot start in this one, jumping out to an early lead with the help of the big man’s 28 first-half points. Tobias Harris featured heavily in the first half as well, playing almost the entirety of the second quarter, scoring 10 points in that second frame and tying his career-high in steals with five before the halftime. The Sixers led by double-digits at the break, but stale isolation offense for the visitors combined with a 13-point third for Kawhi Leonard ultimately gave the Clippers their first lead. Maxey, coming off the bench, put up a 13-point quarter of his own in the fourth to help lead the Sixers back on top. They held the Clippers without a field goal for over five minutes in the fourth to build their lead back up to double-digits, where the game ultimately ended. Embiid led the Sixers in this one with 41 points and nine rebounds.

Now, notice I haven’t mentioned James Harden yet. This is because Tuesday was an uncharacteristically-off night for the typically-stellar Harden. The guard finished with just six points, shooting 1-for-6 from the floor and 0-for-4 from long range. He still posted nine assists, however.

Sixers at Portland Trailblazers - Thursday, Jan. 19

Result: W, 105-95

Bell Ringer: Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sixers entered Thursday on a three-game victory streak on their five-game west coast tour. I know this is starting to get redundant, but Embiid continued to dominate for the Sixers, putting up 10 of the visitors’ first 15 points and ultimately leading the floor with 32 points on Thursday night. Maxey thrived yet again coming in off the bench. The long range shots still aren’t quite falling for him consistently, but he still managed 13 points on 6-9 shooting by halftime. Combine that with the stellar playmaking of James Harden, who had a 16-point, 14-assist and 10-rebound triple-double, and the Sixers had the perfect recipe for a comfortable win.

The Trailblazers were pretty much out of this one for its entirety until they went on a 14-0 run towards the end of the third quarter to put themselves back within striking distance. However, the Sixers’ locked-in defense and Portland’s poor shooting, just 37.6 percent from the floor, combined to push the Sixers’ win streak to four straight games.

Sixers at Sacramento Kings - Saturday, Jan. 21

Result: W, 129-127

Bell Ringer: Tyrese Maxey

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Sacramento Kings Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

It would be fair to say many in the Philadelphia area may have missed this one due to a pretty important football game taking place. Both Embiid and Harden missed this one too, ruled out for injury recovery/management for their respective foot injuries, and their abscence was felt out of the gate. The Kings quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead courtesy of some hot shooting from them and more than a handful of Sixers’ turnovers. The hosts put up a 74-point half, but their lead was cut to just 10 thanks to a buzzer-beating long-range three from Danuel House Jr.

The Sixers chipped away at the deficit in the third frame, finding their first lead of the game at 95-94 courtesy of a stellar quarter from Maxey who put up 15 of his 32 points in the third. The Kings were able to hang close until the final moments. Down three with just a few seconds to play, the Kings were sent to the line to shoot three after Matisse Thybulle fouled Harrison Barnes on his triple attempt. Barnes missed the first, and the Sixers were able to secure the ball after he intentionally missed the third to hold on to the win.

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