The Philadelphia 76ers were in control for almost the entirety of Wednesday night’s showdown with the Lakers, but in the closing minutes, L.A. erased what was an 11-point deficit to take a 106-105 lead with 12 seconds to play.
The play they dialed up for their go-ahead bucket was a beauty, as they had LeBron James come get the ball from Dennis Schröder, who then went to the corner to set a screen for Anthony Davis, forcing Joel Embiid and Danny Green to communicate and navigate an inverted guard-center screen, which they were unable to do, as Davis cut to the hoop for the uncontested layup.
LAKERS TAKE THE LEAD WITH 5 SECONDS LEFT 🚨 pic.twitter.com/h3G1yUORjK
— ESPN (@espn) January 28, 2021
That was the culmination of a rather incredible run, sparked by Alex Caruso’s energy for L.A. and some timely shots from Schröder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and some disastrous offensive play from the Sixers. However, on their final possession, Philadelphia was able to find the bucket they needed as Tobias Harris took the reins and got to his spot underneath the left elbow for a pull-up jumper to take the lead with 2.4 seconds left.
— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2021
The Lakers had called their last timeout to set up the AD go-ahead bucket, so they were unable to advance the ball and Joel Embiid was able to force Davis into the halfcourt scoop shot to preserve the win that should’ve been much easier than it was.
Joel Embiid continued his dominance in the game with 28 points, six rebounds, and four assists, out-dueling Davis who finished the night with 23 points and eight boards. LeBron James was the reason Philly could never fully get detached from L.A., as he had 34 points, seven assists, and six rebounds on the night. But it was Harris’ 24 points and Ben Simmons putting together a 17-point triple-double that made the difference for the Sixers in getting a big win over an L.A. team that had yet to lose a road game this season.
The Lakers have seemed determined to see how poorly they can play while still winning this season, and they certainly tried to pull out an absolute theft on Wednesday. Harris’ jumper put an end to that comeback effort, and the team that should have won did, but the end of that game showed why L.A. will always have a chance and the area where the Sixers still have work to do. The Lakers defense late in games is tremendous, and they have two closers in Davis and LeBron surrounded by decent at least shooters. Philly, meanwhile, has to find ways to get some easy buckets in the halfcourt, as the offense looked like they were pulling teeth in the final minutes when the Lakers ratcheted up the pressure.
Still, a win is a win, and the Sixers get a big feather in their cap as they move to 13-6, while L.A. drops to 14-5, likely to fall behind Utah to second in the West by the end of the night.