Joel Embiid notched his first triple-double of the season while leading the Philadelphia 76ers (12-5) to a blowout 138-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers (10-8) on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Embiid finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 31 minutes. It was the sixth triple-double of his career. Tyrese Maxey scored 31 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out eight assists. The Sixers were without Kelly Oubre Jr. (fractured rib), Danuel House Jr. (left quad contusion) and Jaden Springer (illness).
Los Angeles played without Rui Hachimura (nasal fracture), Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis), Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion) and Cam Reddish (left groin strain). They were led in the loss by Anthony Davis’ 17 points and 11 rebounds. LeBron James finished with 18 points and five assists.
The Sixers’ next matchup is on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night. Here are some instant observations from the win over the Lakers:
– The Lakers began the game on a 13-8 run led by eight quick points from Davis. It looked like Davis was dead set on making the Sixers pay for the comments backup big man Paul Reed made about him earlier in the day. Davis also drew two fouls on Embiid within the first four minutes of action. Despite the foul trouble, Embiid remained in the game for the remainder of the quarter and went on to score 12 points in the opening frame. He, along with Maxey (more below), proceeded to play a large role in helping the Sixers weather the Lakers’ hot start. The Sixers ended the first quarter on a 24-6 run and they never looked back. A lot of credit needs to be given to head coach Nick Nurse for keeping Embiid in the game despite the two early fouls.
Embiid notched another efficient scoring performance, although it was his effort both on the glass and as a passer that stole the show. He asserted his will as a rebounder early and often, especially on the offensive glass. Four of his rebounds came via the offensive glass. Multiple of his rebounds came purely due to him muscling his way past Lakers players, whether they were Davis or Christian Wood. He has been a more consistent rebounder so far this season than in years past. However, there is still some room for growth in that area of his game. Listed at 280 pounds, he has a size advantage over nearly every other big man in the league. If he crashed the boards with this same level of effort and intensity on every night, he would be an unstoppable force as a rebounder.
This game also served as a showcase for Embiid’s newly developed passing ability. He dished out double-digit assists for the first time this season. The big fella even made multiple between the legs passes to Maxey. While Embiid takes the ball up the court off a rebound too much for my liking, the results lately cannot be debated. His court vision and passing ability are much improved from prior seasons, and it should no longer come as a surprise to see him find success distributing the basketball.
– One of the few things to gripe about Maxey’s performance this season has been his slow starts to games. He came into this contest averaging just 2.9 points per game in the first quarter. However, those slow starts did not carry over to this game against the Lakers. Maxey came out firing on all cylinders, scoring 10 points and dishing out three assists in the opening quarter. He came into halftime with 20 points on the board, a significant improvement from his usual slower start to games this season.
A lot of Maxey’s success as a scorer came with him flying around screens on the perimeter. The Sixers ran a lot of actions with him running around screens at the elbow, setting him for some high-difficulty shots from beyond the arc. As an example of the leaps he took as an outside shooter, he made most of those shots look easy. He also had no fear letting it go from long distance, shooting 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. Maxey briefly went through a slump in recent weeks, but it is safe to say he has broken out of his cold spell.
– After his first few games in a Sixers uniform, it looked like Marcus Morris Sr. had nothing left in the tank. However, he showed some signs of life over the past handful of games. He scored 16 points in 16 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Wednesday. Less than a week later, he again made a significant impact for the Sixers. Coming off the bench against the Lakers, he scored another 16 points, including draining four of his five attempts from 3-point range. If he continues to play at this level, he could be in line to receive some consistent minutes.
It was a great night overall for the Sixers’ second unit. In addition to Morris’ strong showing, Pat Beverley contributed in a big way. He took advantage of the open looks the Lakers were willing to give him, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers in the first half. While he is not usually a strong outside shooter, he was able to have the jumper fall against the Lakers. He scored a season-high 12 points while also filling up the stat sheet by grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists in 24 minutes.
– This was by far the Sixers’ most complete performance of the season. They shot the lights out, connecting on 22 of their 46 attempts from 3-point range. There were contributions from up and down the rotation. In addition to the players mentioned above, Nic Batum quietly filled up the stat sheet. He finished the win with 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Robert Covington also continued to hit the glass hard while playing active defense. De’Anthony Melton shot 3-of-6 from beyond the arc while also making a lot of hustle plays on both ends of the floor. All of that adds up to a very convincing win.