The Lakers were in Philadelphia tonight to take on the 76ers. This would be the only trip to Philadelphia for Los Angeles this season, so they didn’t want to leave without a victory. After Kobe Bryant had his Philadelphia high school gym named after him, he was looking to take over the Sixers gym as well.
At the start of the night both the Lakers and the Sixers started out ice cold. It was nearly three minutes before Los Angeles scored, and it was several more minutes before Philadelphia was able to get on the board. The Sixers started the game 0-10 from the field before finally hitting a field goal. The Lakers were unable to capitalize on the dismal shooting of the Sixers due to poor shooting of their own, and only were able to push the lead to 8-0.
While it looked like it might be a start to finish rout again tonight, the Sixers didn’t fold. Unlike the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, the Sixers gave the Lakers a fight despite falling behind early. Philadelphia took advantage of sloppy Lakers offense and multiple turnovers to grasp the lead by the end of the quarter, 21-18.
The Lakers started the second quarter with their bench crew combined with Lamar Odom. This lineup has been particularly useful for Phil Jackson since the return of Andrew Bynum last week. The Lakers took the lead back from Philadelphia with a 9-0 run but were unable to sustain their energy. Much of their problems continued because of turnovers and a lack of aggressiveness in the paint.
Los Angeles looked much more like the team from two weeks ago that had trouble sustaining leads and energy rather than the one from the past two games that has played great basketball. Some credit has to be given to Philadelphia, but overall the Lakers were beating themselves on far too many plays. Unforced turnovers killed offensive rhythm, which resulted in low shooting percentages and low percentage shots.
While the Lakers looked sloppy throughout the first half, Philadelphia looked just as confused on the court. Los Angeles was able to put together a small run at the end of the half to head to the locker room with a small lead, 44-39.
The lead that the Lakers had built to close out the second quarter quickly diminished. Poor shooting percentage and excessive turnovers killed the Lakers in the third quarter. It is tough for any team to win when they are only shooting 35% from the field. The Sixers also started to heat up, and overtook the Lakers in the third quarter.
The most exciting part of the third quarter came without a minute left when Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick made an appearance to a barrage of MVP chants from the Philly fans. The bad news continued for the Lakers, as they were unable to maintain any sort of rhythm in the quarter. Entering the final quarter the Lakers trailed the 76ers 63-58.
Much like a lot of the other games this season the Lakers turned on the burners in the fourth quarter. Despite rather dismal play through three quarters the Lakers, led by Matt Barnes and the bench, mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter. The key contributor for Los Angeles was Lamar Odom, who was able to hit two consecutive three-point plays, connecting on both free throws.
While Odom was the most successful starter in the game, the most productive reserve was Matt Barnes. An overall solid box score from Barnes will reflect his solid play, but it was a big rebound and subsequent three-point shot that pushed the Lakers lead from four to seven that had the biggest impact on the game. After that big shot from Barnes the Lakers followed with three-point shots from Odom and Steve Blake to push the lead to 13.
The key for the Lakers in the fourth quarter – lack of turnovers. What killed them through the first three quarters wasn’t a problem in the fourth. Disciplined basketball helped build a big lead for the Lakers that the Sixers weren’t going to be able to overcome. The Lakers improved their record to 20-7, ending the Sixers three-game winning streak with a 93-81 victory.