Player grades: Joel Embiid leads Sixers past short-handed Lakers

The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to continue their winning ways to begin this five-game road trip as they paid a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. It was the second night of a back-to-back for the Sixers after beginning the trip in Salt Lake City with a win on Saturday.

The Lakers certainly gave Philadelphia some trouble as LeBron James continues to defy logic and beat Father Time at his own game, but Joel Embiid was too much for Los Angeles to handle and the Sixers walked away with a 113-112 win to begin the road trip 2-0. Embiid had 35 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sixers on the night.

James Harden added 24 points, 13 assists, and seven rebounds, Tyrese Maxey had 16 off the bench, and Shake Milton added eight. Tobias Harris had 15 points and three blocks in his return from a one-game absence due to injury and Georges Niang added eight.

Here are the player grades following the win:

James Harden: A

The Beard continued his scoring rampage from Saturday as he had seven points in the first quarter. He continues to look like he is getting back to the player he used to be in terms of his scoring. The 3-point shot continues to be something that is coming back to Harden’s game as he finds efficiency with that shot. Combine that with his ability to still get to the rim and draw fouls and these are all good things for the Sixers. That scoring will be a big factor as Philadelphia moves forward with this 2022-23 season.

De'Anthony Melton: B+

The Sixers made a lineup adjustment with Melton replacing Maxey in the starting lineup. Likely, for defensive purposes. The two-way stud out of USC picked up an early block on Dennis Schroder as he made an immediate impact on that end of the floor. He did have a tough start on the offensive end as he was unable to take advantage of any of the open looks he was receiving. His work on the defensive end was encouraging, however.

Tobias Harris: B+

After missing a game due to left knee soreness, Harris had some struggles to start the game. He missed a few wide-open opportunities on the offensive end and he also had a turnover which led to a Lakers dunk the other way. Defensively, he was active on that end and he was bothering LA when they had dribble penetration. He was much better offensively after halftime as he was much more aggressive in going to the rim. That then allowed him to get into his spots and develop a rhythm within the offense.

PJ Tucker: D+

Unfortunately for Tucker, he was asked to defend James. The living legend was getting whatever he wanted in this one as he took advantage of his quickness and he was also knocking down jumpers as well. Fortunately for Tucker, he knocked down a corner triple to contribute on the offensive end.

Joel Embiid: A+

It was another fast start on the offensive end for Embiid as it was on Saturday. He reached double figures in scoring in the first quarter. Thomas Bryant has proven himself as a solid big man in this league, but defending Embiid is just a big challenge for just about everybody in the NBA. The big fella was doing it all on offense. He was knocking down jumpers, he was finishing at the basket, and he was getting to the free-throw line. There wasn’t much the Lakers could do without Anthony Davis out there.

Tyrese Maxey: B-

Coming off the bench could be good for Maxey. In this role, all he would have to worry about is scoring the basketball, and not having to worry about defending starting guards. In his first quarter run, he was able to score four quick points in being able to get to the rim. The jumper continues to be a bit of a struggle for him since his return from injury, but the aggressiveness is always something the Sixers will take from him. His defensive struggles were still an issue in this one as he had a tough time against LA’s depth.

Shake Milton: B+

Milton picked up where he left off in Utah as he scored five quick points in his initial stint off the bench. He is essential to the bench unit having any type of success on the offensive end of the floor so this is a good development for the Sixers. Although, that might change now that it appears that Maxey will come off the bench. Milton and Maxey will then be able to lead the second unit together with their offensive abilities.

Georges Niang: B

Niang had a tough first half as he was unable to really do much on the offensive end. He had a very tough night in Utah as he wasn’t able to knock down any of his open opportunities from deep. This one was more of the same to start. In the third quarter, he came alive with a layup and he then knocked down a triple. He also knocked down a huge one late in the fourth to put Philadelphia in front.

Matisse Thybulle: B-

The defensive stud out of Washington entered the game and then drew an offensive foul on Russell Westbrook. He moved his feet well and he was able to bother opponents out on the perimeter. He was called for a few questionable fouls that allowed the Lakers to get some easy points at the line, but overall, he had a nice night on that end.

Montrezl Harrell: D

The initial run for Harrell was a tough one. He wasn’t able to get into a rhythm on the offensive end and he also had a tough time on defense as Wenyen Gabriel was making some nice offensive moves for Los Angeles in order to get some easy baskets against Harrell.

Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire