The Sixers (38-31) visited the Los Angeles Lakers (37-32) on Friday. Philadelphia wanted to rebound from Wednesday's loss to the Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles wanted to build on Monday's victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The effort was excellent, the execution not so much in a 101-94 loss to the Lakers.

Before we get to the action, 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.

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 Kyle Lowry, Tyrese Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, and Mo Bamba.

The Lakers were without the services of Christian Wood, who is recovering from left knee surgery.

Gabe Vincent is recovering from left knee surgery and was not available. Jarred Vanderbilt has a sprained right mid-foot and was out. Taurean Prince missed the game due to personal reasons.

Jalen Hood-Schifino is recovering from surgery on a lumbar disc and was out. Colin Castleton has a fractured right wrist and was not available.

Darvin Ham started D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.


- Los Angeles very clearly wanted to capitalize on the Embiid-sized hole in the middle, staying cognizant of Davis rolling to the basket and attempting to loft passes where no one but he could get them. But, the Sixers did what they could to thwart those efforts.

It was another example of Philadelphia staying connected on defense early on, the Sixers recognizing the Lakers' focus and being sure to protect Bamba or a mismatched teammate. The white jerseys slid over to the paint as Davis took his route to the basket, executing timely low-man rotations to take away easy dunks. Not only did they deny the Lakers their vertical game on lobs to the star big man, but the Sixers even caused turnovers on tip-aways or passes that never fully got to Davis and went out of bounds.

- The biggest gripe I have with Harris is that he doesn't play with a resilient mindset when things are going badly. The loss to the Knicks in New York was a great example of him at his absolute worst. OG Anunoby got physical with him on a couple of his touches, and Harris was basically done for the night. Not only did he do almost nothing in the scoring column, but he was a non-entity on the glass and a bystander on defense.

That type of effort is unacceptable, and it's not the way winning players go down.

You might've felt compelled to pardon Harris for what seemed destined to be another stinker. Your first game back from an injury can be awkward and clunky. But, he certainly wasn't shy. And if you're going to gun, you're not going to get the "warmup game" pardon. You're damn sure not going to get that courtesy when you're throwing up bricks and then turning your head in help and letting LeBron freaking James burst backdoor for a dunk.

It got worse for Harris, too. The Sixers threw the ball to him for isolations and post-ups against switches. He made Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie both look like prime Tony Allen, getting stood up in those one-on-ones and resorting to throwing up junk that clanged off the rim. There was also an 0-for-2 trip to the foul line somewhere in the middle of all of that.

But, not so fast. Harris deserves his praise for what happened next. He called for the ball below the left wing and told his teammates to clear out so that he could have that dance against his assigned Laker. He laced a pull-up jumper and got the foul, and that sent him on a very nice run to close the first half.

Beyond that, he was extremely mindful of both sides of the glass. He crashed to the rim a number of times, running into focus to pull the ball down and get the Sixers out in transition or give them additional plays after misses.

Unless you are compromising the team for the sake of breaking out of your own cold spell, I will never criticize misses. The sport is such that it is inherently more likely that you will miss shots than it is that you will make them. But, by definition, you cannot embody winning if you totally shut down as soon as adversity strikes. Harris took the rough patches on the chin, dusted himself off, and fought back. No matter what happens in the end, that's a winner's mentality.


- I really did not like the way Maxey approached this game at all. There is not a single Laker on that roster capable of staying in front of him if he's patient in working a possession and finding the driving edge. And Maxey has developed the change of speed skills and timing to manipulate his way to the cup on drives regardless of who is in his way. I get that Davis' length puts it in smaller players' heads that he's always lurking around the rim in hopes of pinning a layup off the backboard. But, the counter point to that is Maxey rarely gets discouraged by bigger players. He will take contact, not get the whistle, crash to the floor, and go back to the rim just as hard the next trip down the floor. So, that he deviated from one of the things that make him who he is was a red flag by itself.

It wasn't just that Maxey didn't seek his bread and butter; it was that he let that snowball into him choosing to take some very bad shots. It wasn't what you would traditionally think of as "bad" shots; he wasn't forcing contested jumpers and ignoring teammates, or launching deep threes early in the clock. Rather, Maxey got downhill, stopped on his way to the rim, pivoted, and tossed up contested long twos.

It's undeniably good that he's getting comfortable with the pull-up long two. But, that's a shot I prefer to beat drop coverage or to have in the bag after creating space in isolation. It is not what you want to resort to in the middle of the clock with guys draped on you just because you stopped yourself and have to get something up.

Furthermore, Maxey got a bit impatient when squaring up with slow-footed defenders on the perimeter. Rather than get to his first step and use a move to loosen their defensive stances, he settled for stepback threes. Those shots are fine when he has to time to get his legs under him and isn't eating up energy elsewhere. Maxey is not at the stage where he can get full power into his shooting motion every time he goes to the stepback, and he's doing a lot of work elsewhere to leave his energy reserve below where it needs to be for that to be a high-value shot.

- Paul Reed and Harris picking up their dribbles at the slightest bit of ball pressure made me clench my jaw in anger. Also, you can pull it out of the paint and and reset the offense on an offensive rebound. No need to lock yourself to the spot where you caught the ball and pivot in panic. Lot of robotic play from the Sixers at times in this one.

The Sixers (38-32) will stay in Los Angeles for a matinee with the Clippers (44-25) on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig/Townsquare Media

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