New-look Philadelphia stops LeBron, Lakers
PHILADELPHIA — Magic Johnson and LeBron James have captured eight NBA titles between them. With Johnson in the stands and James on the court, the Philadelphia 76ers showed off their own championship potential.
Joel Embiid had 37 points and 14 rebounds, Tobias Harris scored 22 points in his second game with Philadelphia, and the new-look 76ers beat James and the Los Angeles Lakers 143-120 on Sunday (Monday morning, Philippine Time).
JJ Redick added 21 points for the Sixers, who have won two straight after acquiring Harris and four others at Thursday’s trade deadline. Jimmy Butler finished with 15 points in front of a packed Philly crowd that brought a playoff-like feel to the nationally televised game.
“The East better watch out,” said Johnson, the Lakers president who made the trip to Philly for the game. “This is a stacked team.”
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 39 points while James had 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
James was facing Philadelphia for the first time since the Sixers made a big push to sign the superstar as a free agent last summer. He and Kuzma both missed the last matchup with Philly on Jan. 29, which the Sixers won 121-105.
“I thought they were going to be very good anyway before they made any moves, before the season even started,” James said. “And they’ve made a bunch of moves to improve their club.”
Fresh off a buzzer-beating win at Boston, the Lakers shot nearly 60 percent and scored 40 points in the first quarter. But fueled by Redick’s four-point play, the Sixers closed the first half on a 19-6 run to take a 76-67 lead into halftime.
Embiid, who was questionable to play because of gastroenteritis, led the charge with 25 points in the first half after lighting up the Lakers for 28 in the teams’ first matchup.
“I must not be a big LA fan,” said Embiid, who had his league-leading 23rd game with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. “It’s fun. I’ve been more consistent against both LA teams.”
Philadelphia’s lead ballooned to 109-94 at the end of the third quarter after T.J. McConnell’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds. The Sixers ran away with the game from there while gleeful fans chanted “Kobe’s better” at James.
“We had too many breakdowns,” James said. “Way too many breakdowns.”
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