Embiid records triple-double as Sixers smoke Lakers: Likes and dislikes
The Sixers (11-5) hosted the Los Angeles Lakers (10-7) on Monday. Philadelphia wanted to build on Saturday's victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Los Angeles wanted to push its road winning streak to four games. A red-hot shooting first half and a brilliant night from Joel Embiid powered the Sixers to a blowout victory, 138-94.
Before we get to the action, some notes.
The Lakers were without Rui Hachimura, who is recovering from a nasal fracture.
Jarred Vanderbilt was out with a left heel bursitis. Gabe Vincent missed the game with a left knee effusion.
Cam Reddish has a strained left groin and was not available.
Darvin Ham started D'Angelo Russell, Max Christie, Taurean Prince, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.
The Sixers were without Kelly Oubre Jr., who is recovering from a fractured rib.
Danuel House Jr. missed the game with a left quad contusion. Jaden Springer has an illness and was out.
Terquavion Smith, Javonte Smart, and Ricky Council IV are on two-way G League assignments with the Delaware Blue Coats and were not available.
Nick Nurse started Tyrese Maxey, De'Anthony Melton, Nico Batum, Tobias Harris, and Embiid.
- Nurse should text a highlight reel of Maxey's shot selection in the first quarter to him before every game, because this version of the young guard is the one the Sixers need every single night. I will say, it makes a difference when Christie and Russell are the ones having to chase you through off-ball screens.
Nonetheless, Maxey had his choice of open threes as he sprinted around screens a la Steph Curry. He wasn't shy, squaring his shoulders to the basket and firing away as his body floated towards the left sideline. Maxey was feeling it, too, cashing in on two triples in the first quarter.
His aggression not only sustained but also opened up his passing game. Maxey used the respect his aggressive shot selection earned to tease the Lakers at the point of attack in his two-man game with Embiid.
The duo ran DHOs to no end in the first half, Maxey taking advantage of the matchup he liked for midrange jumpers off the dribble or feeding Embiid towards the middle of the floor. Eight attempts from beyond the arc to power a 20-point first half, in addition to six assists. Zero turnovers. It's only one half, but it felt like something clicked in his head. He found the balance between being a playmaker and being a scorer, and he did it by coming out of the gate with an itchy trigger finger.
- Personally, I think people anticipated a fiery Davis from the jump after Paul Reed made some candid comments about the Lakers star at Monday's shootaround. And, to Davis' credit, he came out looking to score the basketball by any means necessary early in the game. But, it was Embiid who set the tone early.
The big guy did not care who was in his way, he was going to assert his physical force. He put Davis, a big forever lauded for his defense, through the basket on one score in the first quarter. Just drove, sent him flailing into the stanchion, and kissed the ball off the glass for an easy layup.
This game wasn't remotely one of the best scoring games of Embiid's career, but the eye test said he was quite unstoppable. Embiid didn't rely on his midrange game all that much. He just made up his mind and applied physical pressure on the Lakers' interior all game long.
Embiid didn't give up on the play when the shot went up, either. He had a bunch of emphatic jumps to the offensive glass, swooping in to secure second-chance opportunities to the shock of the Lakers on the court.
Physically dominant night from the reigning MVP.
- As much as he won the physicality battle, Embiid also put on a clinic with his thought processes. He didn't need to dominate the scoring column to prove he was locked in. Embiid made great passing reads all game long, waiting until helpers slid over beyond the point of recovering before firing the ball to open shooters and finding cutters when multiple Lakers walled him off before he could get to the basket.
Underrated minor detail, too. He set some strong screens as Maxey's partner in the DHO. That's an easy way to rack up assists; quite literally create and spoon-feed open shots for a great shooter. What a concept.
- The Lakers might've known this night wasn't theirs when both Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris Sr. put on a shooting clinic in the second quarter. Los Angeles rightfully treated Beverley as a non-shooter. But, to his credit, he made them pay. And, to Morris' credit, he was a dead-eye the day after voicing some frustrations with his current role with Philadelphia. If you're going to write a check as a role player, you'd better be able to cash it. He certainly did in this game.
- I got nothing for the home team. An A+ game for the Sixers. Job well done.
- As for the Lakers, this was embarrassing. A total stinker. They weren't even competitive.
The Sixers (12-5) will visit the New Orleans Pelicans (9-8) on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.