For a period of time, it looked like the Philadelphia 76ers had the matchup with the Lakers well within their hands. De’Anthony Melton, who scored a career-high 30 points, drained a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 118-110 with just 44.1 seconds remaining in what looked to be the icing on the cake. From here, the Sixers imploded in a major way and managed to blow the lead and needed two crucial missed free-throws from the Lakers for the game to ultimately go to overtime.
Doc Rivers summed it up quite well when asked about the concerning sequence. When first asked about what went wrong he simply put it, “Everything.” The veteran head coach expanded on this and stated, “Missed layups, turnovers… I felt like a football coach when the guy has a field goal, you know? Hope he misses one,” Rivers said alluding to the missed free throws. “We got it to the overtime which is an amazing statement. I mean really like that should never happen.”
Rivers also gave credit to the team for managing to put the struggles behind them and echoed this as the main message of his postgame presser. As he put it, “One thing I will say is when you give up a lead like that, to gather yourself and play well in overtime is rare. So I told our guys we’re very proud of that.” The Sixers outscored the Lakers 13-2 in the overtime period with a convincing two-way performance in the bonus period to get the win.
What Did Go Wrong For The Sixers?
For most of the second half, the Sixers held just about complete control of the game. As the fourth quarter winded down, Philadelphia led by 16 points with 4:05 remaining. They also led by 12 points with 2:13 remaining and were up nine with just 34.1 seconds remaining. The meltdown was about as chaotic as possible with the Lakers managing to scrap their way back in.
During the final 7:32 of the fourth quarter, at which point the Sixers led 104-91, several ugly problems showed face. Between this point and the end of the game, the Sixers turned the ball over eight times and fouled six times. This included Matisse Thybulle fouling Austin Reaves with nine seconds left and a three-point lead which gave the Lakers a chance to tie, and Anthony Davis picking off an inbound pass (which somehow hit Joel Embiid in the face) before being fouled by Tobias Harris with the Sixers leading 120-119. The Sixers lucked out and each Lakers player missed a free throw to allow the game to go to overtime.
Joel Embiid’s Thoughts
The Sixers superstar was also rightfully frustrated about the Sixers’ execution down the stretch. As he put it, “Honestly out there we had a bunch of turnovers. We should have never been in that position but I’m glad we got another opportunity and we went to overtime and we closed it out.”
It took an impressive effort from Embiid for the Sixers to even be in the game. He started the game incredibly hot scoring 20 points in the first quarter on an efficient 8-9 from the field to help the Sixers get out to a 31-20 lead. The Lakers made him a major focus moving forward which forced him to become more of a playmaker but his impact was still felt. Embiid ultimately ended the game with 38 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and was a team-high +20 in the matchup.
It may not have been pretty, but the Sixers did get the win. Their 133-122 victory moves their record to 13-12 on the season and pushes them back above .500. There still will be plenty to clean up on their execution moving forward, but at least this was not the latest costly collapse added to the Sixers’ resume.