The Sixers are going back-to-back in anxiety-inducing fashion against the Lakers

The Sixers swept their back-to-back weekend with a 113-112 win over the LA Lakers on Sunday. LeBron James and Joel Embiid each scored 35 points tonight, but the Sixers were able to force a Russell Westbrook turnover and hold on for the win.

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

Here are some thoughts with the buzzer.

The first quarter

  • Just like last night, Philly got off to a hot offensive start. Their pick-and-roll action drew them loose looks throughout the quarter, whether it was Joel Embiid and James Harden or Shake Milton and Montrezl Harrell. Embiid had 14 of his x’s in the opening frame, as these scoring bursts start to feel old.
  • The Lakers offense similarly got whatever it wanted in the first quarter. LeBron James scored or assisted on 18 of LA’s first 20 points. The Sixers managed to hold a one-point lead after the first game despite the Lakers shooting 64 percent from the field early in the game.

Second quarter

  • Doc Rivers messed around with his innings a lot more tonight than he did last month. Tobias Harris dealing with a knee problem in the second half of the doubleheader probably played a big role, but it’s still worth looking into. Philly ran a three-guard lineup with Harris and Embiid for about five minutes, and this lineup was the best minute the Sixers played during the half.
  • The offense started to clog up when PJ Tucker replaced Tyrese Maxey, as they turned the ball over on the next two possessions. The Lakers ended the half with an 11-3 run to take a one-point lead into the break.
  • A frustrating final three minutes of the half were punctuated by an unnecessary foul on Russell Westbrook with just three seconds left in the quarter.

The third quarter

  • It was interesting 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 would finish with a 20-14-14 triple-double.
  • After Tobias Harris’ eight-point rally, the Sixers’ offense stalled for much of the third. Joel Embiid posterizing Wenyen Gabriel Jr. seemed to turn things around, as the Sixers were able to get the lead back by three.

Fourth quarter

  • The Lakers destroyed Philly in the paint category and it wasn’t hard to see why. James and Westbrook absolutely torched the frontcourt of Niang and Harrell’s second unit. LA won the division tonight 70-52.
  • For the second night in a row, James Harden was excellent down the stretch. He scored or assisted on 17 of Philly’s last 24 points in the game. They sealed the game as they did last night, with a pick-and-pop that ended with an Embiid jumper.
  • The Sixers will remain in LA, only this time they will face the Clippers, this Tuesday at 10:00 PM EST.

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