The Lakers lost to the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night 115 – 109. Sadly, the real losers were anyone emotionally invested in seeing the Lakers make a three point shot. The Lakers shot 11% from deep, going 3 for 27 from beyond the arc. Joel Embiid (46/15/7), who actually can make wide open three point shots, put together a brilliant performance. That man is a problem and I look forward to watching him for many years.
The 76er duo in Embiid and Ben Simmons (18/9/10) played a great game to pull out the victory in the last two minutes of regulation. The Laker defense was able to hold for most of the game, but late there was no stopping the second year center. Randle brought toughness to the assignment, but he was simply outmatched.
On a positive note, Brandon Ingram had perhaps his best game as a professional scoring 26 points on 11 for 18 shooting. He rebounded (11), blocked (2), and tantalized our imaginations hitting nice mid-range jumpers. We are starting to see flashes of a complete player in Ingram and it’s a joy to watch.
Jordan Clarkson put in another solid performance with 20 points and one of the few Laker positive plus/minus with +3. In a repeat of the Suns game, he replaced Lonzo in the 4th quarter. Ball sat out as Clarkson was one of the few offensive threats the team had in a tight game at home. There isn’t much to say about Ball’s performance and the less we say the better.
Kyle Kuzma rebounded from some recent struggles to put up 24 points and nearly ended the career of Joel Embiid on a missed dunk. Kuzma came down with 7 rebound of his own and with a late three nearly nudged the Lakers into a victory. Alas, it was not to biid.
The reality is the Lakers continued inability to stretch the floor cost them this game. The 76ers defense collapsed, not fearing any outside shooting, and it was essentially the last charge of the light brigade as Lakers drove into 4 defenders. At some point someone on the Lakers will need to make shots. When the team did drive and kick it turned into a game of hot potato for players lacking the confidence to shoot from long range. Drive in. Pass out. Drive in. Repeat. It was a pretty tough watch for the first two thirds of the game.
Coach Walton continued his Choose Your Own Adventure approach to rotations, and surprisingly it resulted in a not terrible game from Andrew Bogut. Bogut grabbed 10 rebounds, scored 6 points, and most egregiously probably earned himself more minutes. It was nice to see him play well. It also sent a shiver down my spine when I saw Brewer and Bogut out there and I realized they were actually the most likely to help us in that moment.
Are there any great take-aways from this game? Ben Simmons is really good. Joel Embiid is better. Our best players are at least another year away from competing at their level. Brandon Ingram is continuing to develop into a real talent and Lonzo Ball is still finding his way in the best, most entertaining league in the world.
On to the next one.