Sixers win over Lakers is a title-worthy statement

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Dan Roche
·3 min read
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Sixers win over Lakers is a title-worthy statement originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The term “statement game” is thrown around quite a bit in sports. A team on a good run, approaching a game against a championship-worthy opponent — or in Wednesday’s case, the defending champions — certainly would classify.

The statement made by the Sixers was “We are ready.”

Yes, the final four minutes turned a potential laugher into a potential loss before Tobias Harris rescued a 107-106 win over the Lakers, but the level of play they showed throughout the game, even with Joel Embiid not at 100 percent, was the level of play shown by a team who is ready.

Ready to make a serious run at a championship.

The Sixers kept the defending NBA champs at arm’s length for the better part of the night, thanks to strong performances up and down the roster. Embiid played through back pain — worsened by a hard foul from LeBron James in the third quarter — and scored a game-high 28 points. Ben Simmons played determined basketball all night, showing the intensity fans have seen come and go this season, messed around and got a triple-double. 

Harris was equally driven, scoring 24 points, including seven in the fourth quarter when points were at a major premium. With many expecting the ball to be fed into Embiid with the Sixers down one in the closing seconds, it was Harris who took center stage and closed out the game.

“I’m a person who visualizes himself in those spots,” Harris told reporters of the final possession. “It’s a shot I work on time and time again. In those moments, I need to be confident enough to let it go, and OK with the results.”

While Lakers superstars James and Anthony Davis combined for 57 points on the night, the Sixers made them work extremely hard for it, especially late. Smothering defense from Simmons, Harris, and Matisse Thybulle forced LA’s Big Two into 6-for-18 shooting over the final 24 minutes.

“I think it’s a really good team that they’ve put together,” James said after the game. “Give a lot of credit to [general manager] Elton Brand, and the things that they’re doing here. Obviously, [head coach] Doc [Rivers] has always won, pretty much wherever he’s been, and he’s got them playing some really good basketball. ... There is going to be a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference that will play championship basketball down the stretch, and I know that they believe they are one of those teams.”

This was a win that will be considered a barometer for this Sixers team, still figuring itself out with newcomers Danny Green, Seth Curry and Dwight Howard. To a man, at least one player definitely considered it a “statement game.”

“Some people think we haven’t played anybody,” said Harris. “For us, we wanted to go against the champs, we wanted to see where we’re at, see how we matched up and fit, and that was that.”

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Indiana
+180+5.5-
Philadelphia
-223-5.5-