L.A.’s chances looked bleak when LeBron James was ruled out before tip-off due to a sore left knee. To have a chance against Joel Embiid and company, the Lakers needed Anthony Davis to provide a big game paired with impeccable play from the role players.
However, while Davis had a fantastic two-way game, the other players did not play flawlessly. To name one example, the Lakers shot 6-of-29 (21.4 percent) from 3-point range as a team.
With a dominant 31-point performance in only his second game back from a sprained knee, Davis overpowered Joel Embiid and muzzled many of his skeptics.
Davis shot 11-14 from the field to start the game and finished 14-21 (with 12 rebounds) as his midrange jumper looked as good as it has all season. Davis’ pick-and-pop chemistry with the team’s guards was the only consistent part of the Lakers’ offense all night, and he looked like his old self on defense as well, which was a promising sign.
Sadly for him, the remaining of the LeBron James-less Lakers couldn’t aid him as the Philadelphia 76ers’ ensemble cast rolled over the purple and gold, handing the purple and gold a 105-87 deficit.
Davis finished with three blocks and two steals as the Lakers’ main center, and he restricted Embiid, who had been averaging 39 points per game over his previous six games, to just 26 points in this one.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 26, 2022
The Lakers’ supporting cast was abysmal without LeBron. Russell Westbrook scored 20 points but also dedicated a game-high six of the Lakers’ 17 turnovers, extending his frustrating recent play.
Starting guards Avery Bradley and Malik Monk each had two points, and while they played good enough defense to finish with plus-minuses of -2 and -1, respectively, their defensive contributions were wiped out by the woeful defensive performances of Anthony, Monk, Talen-Horton Tucker, and even rookie guard Austin Reaves. Horton-Tucker, in particular, continued his dreadful recent run, finishing with only 7 points and a team-low -23.
Carmelo Anthony and Monk fought against Philly’s terrific wing defense, just one game after helping the Lakers to a big road win over the Brooklyn Nets. Melo finished 4-11 from the field for 9 points, while Monk finished 3-13 for 11 points.
Meanwhile, despite their best player’s fairly light scoring performance, the Sixers barely broke a sweat, ripping down wide-open jumpers and making quick lanes to the rim all night. Tobias Harris led the way with 23 points, while Tyrese Maxey and Georges Niang each finished with 14 points. To add insult to injury, former Laker Andre Drummond grabbed 10 rebounds against a struggling L.A. second unit.
This defeat drops the Lakers to 24-25, and they now encounter a short turnaround as they head south to meet the Charlotte Hornets in the second leg of this back-to-back, and the third nationally broadcast game of the week, on Friday. The game will begin at 4:30 p.m. pacific time on ESPN.
Are the Lakers back on track with a healthy Big 3?
"The Lakers are vastly underrated. … It's all about the defense. I don't need AD shooting any more 3s. If they can just defend the paint like Frank Vogel's team have always done, they have a chance." — @kevinwildes pic.twitter.com/EeEwnrAXUL
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) January 26, 2022