The Los Angeles Lakers came up just short in their comeback attempt, losing against the Philadelphia 76ers and snapping their undefeated road streak to start the season.
The Lakers played catch up for most of the night as they had issues keeping the 76ers off the foul line. Joel Embiid in particular was difficult to contain as he finished the night with 28 points and forced his way to the line several times in the first half.
However, Los Angeles made a more concerted effort in the second half to limit Embiid and it worked as they forced him into tough contested jumpers and a couple of turnovers. “Better as the game went along,” described Lakers head coach Frank Vogel of his team’s defense against Embiid.
“I thought our fouling discipline in the second half was far better than the first half, and as a result he didn’t shoot as many free throws. That’s where it starts with him. He’s a unique player. We didn’t face him last year.
“He’s got a lot of tricks, is shifty and very difficult to defend without fouling. We didn’t do a good enough job in the first half but got better as the game went along.”
Prior to tipoff Vogel identified that keeping Embiid off the foul line was a point of emphasis. “We start by putting him at the top of the scouting report and talk about all those things,” Vogel explained.
“A large part of our meeting this morning was the discipline you have to play with against him to try to slow him down and take away his air space without putting him to the free throw line. It’s going to be a tough challenge but a good test for us.”
Embiid would shoot 11-of-13 from the free throw line, with most of his attempts coming in the first half. Marc Gasol was his primary defender, but often times found himself out of position and forced to foul Embiid. However, Anthony Davis drew the Embiid assignment during the comeback effort and managed to slow him down in the final minutes.
The 76ers center is one of the frontrunners for the MVP Award this season and he showed why against the Lakers. Despite the loss, L.A. can hang their hat on the fact they could slow down Embiid when needed which might prove useful should the two teams meet in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James: Lakers needed to be better about not sending 76ers to free throw line
Although it was a point of emphasis for the Lakers, they still could not prevent the 76ers from getting to the line. Philadelphia had 26 free throw attempts, with half of those coming from Embiid.
LeBron James appreciated the Lakers’ late-game fight, but admitted they needed to be better in the first quarter in regards to fouling. “I believe they had 12 free throw attempts at the end of the first quarter, and Embiid probably had eight of those,” James said.
“It allowed them to get their defense set. Neutralized us being able to get stops and get out on the break. Besides that, we held them to 21 points in the second, 26 and 26, and gave ourselves an opportunity to win at the end.
“It didn’t go our way but I loved our fight. We’ve just got to do a better job keeping our hands out of the cookie jar, especially with a guy like Embiid who has Harden-like magic as far as the swipe move and things of that nature.”
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