The national nightmare is over! Okay, not really a national nightmare but the Lakers finally win a game for the first time in the month of December. The Lakers beat the lowly Sixers, 100-89. L.A. got off to a 13-0 start and never lost the lead.
It’s not a pretty game by any means but the Lakers did answer to Luke Walton’s challenge. He said that the players were “mentally soft” after their disappointing loss against the Nets.
The Lakers were energized on both ends of the court early. L.A.’s defense led to a lot of transition plays (27 fastbreak points by the Lakers compared to 8 by the Sixers). And the ball movement that was lacking during the losing streak showed up mostly in the first half. The Sixers struggled to shoot from the field and the Lakers led by double digits going into the second half.
L.A. boosted the lead to 22 in the third quarter before everything that plagued them during that losing skid returned to them. The Sixers went on a 9-0 run to end the third and the deficit was down to 10 points. Philly got it down to seven twice but timely buckets by Jordan Clarkson, Luol Deng, and Julius Randle snuffed the rally. The Lakers would hold on despite a mostly lackluster fourth quarter.
We had some good balanced scoring from the Lakers as there were five players in double figures. Randle scored a season-best 25 points to go along with 9 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Lou Williams continues to score well off the bench with 18 points. D’Angelo Russell (15 points) didn’t shoot well but he rebounded well (7 rebounds), made the offense go, and was telling his teammates their spots on defense. Nick Young (15 points) only played 21 minutes but he continues his good play on both ends of the court. Jordan Clarkson (10 points, 4/9 from the field) has struggled in the losing streak and he’s trying to shoot his way back, which has been detrimental to the team’s ball movement. Larry Nance grabbed 11 boards and was all over the court. And welcome back, Tarik Black, even if you only played 205 seconds.
The Sixers don’t have much offensively but we know how talented Joel Embiid is. He had 15 points to lead Philly. But Philly only shot 36 percent from the field (they went 6 for 31, .194, from three). They were scrappy enough to cut into that 22-point lead so you have to give them credit for that.
But at least, the Lakers finally snapped their eight-game skid. The NBA doesn’t stop, though, as they play the world champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in about 20 and a half hours. They should take note and build on this win against the Sixers. No one is expecting them to beat the champs on the road but we want to see the fighting spirit and the ball movement that defined the Lakers in their first 20 games. Maybe Luke did wake the team up a bit.
Even if it was a bit scary, good win by the Lakers.
(Also, rest in peace, Craig Sager. #SagerStrong forever.)