The Sixers (38-32) visited the Los Angeles Clippers (44-25) on Sunday. Philadelphia wanted to snap a two-game losing streak. Los Angeles wanted to push its winning streak to three games. The Sixers took advantage of a completely disinterested Clippers defense, riding a hot hand from Tobias Harris in the first half and a dynamic duo in Tyrese Maxey and Cam Payne in the second half en route to a 121-107 victory.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a procedure to address a meniscus injury in his left knee.

Kyle Lowry missed the game due to rest on the first leg of a back-to-back.

De'Anthony Melton has bone stress in his lumbar spine and remained out. As did Robert Covington, who has a bone bruise in his left knee.

Kai Jones has a strained right hamstring and was out. Terq Smith is on a two-way G League assignment with the Delaware Blue Coats and was not available.

Nick Nurse started Maxey, Buddy Hield, Kelly Oubre Jr., Harris, and Mo Bamba

The Clippers were without the services of Russell Westbrook, who is recovering from a fractured left hand.

PJ Tucker missed the game with a sore right calf.

Ty Lue started James Harden, Terance Mann, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Ivica Zubac.


- You felt like the Clippers were eventually going to wake up and eviscerate the Sixers. Los Angeles might not have the defensive chops on any given Sunday, but that offense can sleep-walk through a quarter or two and turn on with the snap of a finger. A scary proposition for this version of the Sixers, who can defend their butts off for long stretches but never really know when the offense is going to get caught in mud.

The first quarter shooting was unsustainably hot; 17-for-25 from the field, 7-for-9 from three is anomalous for the best league in the world, let alone a team missing the guy who single-handedly lifts his teammates' shot quality by being the offensive force that he is. But, even when the Clippers went on their runs and you felt like the lead was slipping away as the talent disparity took control, Harris stepped up in what was perhaps his best half since Embiid left the floor almost two months ago.

He followed a miss on his first shot of the game with a three and a couple of jumpers around the elbows, and the rhythm was thereby established. He backed down lengthy wing defenders like George and spun over the other shoulder to lace fall-away jumpers, he took the hot potato around the short corner and knocked down 10-footers.

Less than 48 hours after making D'Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie look like prime Tony Allen on post-ups and face-ups, Harris glided through the Clippers in his way like a hot knife through butter, beating them to spots with physicality and quick first steps to his right. He got to the rim regardless of whether the Clippers were set on defense, cleaning up near disasters when the Sixers appeared to botch favorable numbers in transition and attacking Zubac on drives to kiss the ball off the glass for strong layups.

Harris, by himself, answered Los Angeles runs in the first half. He was nearly the only reason the Sixers had a seven-point lead going into halftime.

- When it wasn't Harris riding the hot hand, the Sixers found other means of scoring simply by taking advantage of a Clippers defense that was either too slow to get back or completely disinterested in getting back. All it took was one drag screen for Maxey to get the inside position on a backpedaling Zubac, taking the Los Angeles big man right to the rim for layups.

If it wasn't that, the Sixers put baseline pressure on the Clippers, taking advantage of the ball defender not getting back in time to take away the drive. They forced Los Angeles to make help rotations away from the weak side to protect the basket, and made them pay by delivering the open swing pass to shooters. Hield, for example, walked into what was effectively a practice shot on the left wing because the rock pinballed around the perimeter out of baseline drives.

- The perimeter game has failed Maxey during this road trip, but he has not allowed that to silence his production during the Sixers' stay in Los Angeles. His driving game was the biggest reason the Sixers stayed competitive when everyone felt the Lakers game slipping away. He picked and chose his spots as Harris cooked in the first half, and then immediately turned the water on when it became clear no. 12 didn't have the same rhythm when the third quarter began.

Maxey didn't hit from the perimeter until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but he carved the Clippers on drives. He recognized that it wouldn't take much creativity for him to create the space he needed to blow by his assigned defender on the perimeter. Once he got to his first step and ignited the jets, it was game over for Los Angeles.

Zubac is a very solid big man, but he had zero chance of stunting and recovering once he lifted away from the rim to approach Maxey. It might've required a little bit of control to finish the possession, but Maxey was well on his way to a rather unchallenged layup. It wasn't just once or twice; Maxey cooked the Clippers the same way over and over again in the second half. It certainly looked dicy at times, but he was the main reason Philadelphia's offense turned a tied game in the third quarter into a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter.

- The other reason was none other than Payne. I'll typically say that a player of his size and limited versatility gets solved and played off the court in the playoffs after a game or two. But, he's given the Sixers juice in the exact same ways over and over again lately. It hasn't been up and down; he's been consistent in delivering the same goods every game recently.

He doesn't just end possessions with heat-check threes. He'll take it if he's feeling it or the defense isn't giving him the respect he deserves. But, he'll also throw a shot fake in there and drive to see if something else materializes. A lot of microwave reserve guards will check out on the possession until the ball comes back to them. Payne actually relocates after giving it up and then anticipates when the next opportunity will come. The Clippers let him get going, and he used the heater to support Maxey's run late in the third quarter and early fourth quarter.


- Glad to see that Oubre Jr. seemed fine after taking a hard fall going up against Zubac at the rim. But, man, that was some of the worst defense he's played in a while. He got bullied by Harden in the pick-and-roll early in the game, falling for the bearded guy's tricks when he felt Oubre lingering too close on his hip. He didn't help the cause with his closeouts on Leonard and Harden when the ball swung their ways. He was either confused and stepped away before stepping to the ball or just blatantly gave up on the play and conceded open threes.

- I've never seen such record-scratch moments in transition. The Sixers, namely KJ Martin and Paul Reed, were more afraid of messing up the numbers advantage than they were focused on simply taking the play in stride. They over-complicated a bunch of three-on-twos and two-on-ones.

The Sixers (39-32) will visit the Sacramento Kings (41-29) on Monday. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the game on NBA TV.

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