In what turned to be a highly competitive affair at the end, the Los Angeles Lakers ultimately came up short against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fighting uphill most of the night, the Lakers made a last-gasp effort in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and actually took the lead off an Anthony Davis layup. However, Tobias Harris responded with a pull-up jumper over Alex Caruso and Davis missed a heave from half court, ending Los Angeles’ undefeated record on the road this season.
Joel Embiid continued his excellent run during the 2020-21 season, leading the 76ers in scoring with 28 points and getting to the free throw line a game-high 13 times. However, there was a scary moment in the third quarter when LeBron James sent Embiid to the floor after shoving him in the air.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Embiid believes that James should have been assessed a flagrant 2 foul and been ejected from the game, though Sixers head coach Doc Rivers had a more modest view of the play:
“Well, first of all, I mean, you look at it, that’s a very dangerous play,” Embiid said of James’ foul, which came at the 5:44 mark of the third quarter. “I guarantee you that if it was me, I would have probably been ejected from the game, which has happened in the past with me getting flagrant fouls really for nothing.”
“First of all, LeBron’s not a dirty player,” Rivers said. “It was just a physical play, and they had to call the flagrant, I guess.
“You know, all of the flagrants tonight … you can get a flagrant easy these days. But that fall was hard, and there was some concern there, for sure. The fact that Joel kept going, clearly he wasn’t the same after that, as far as his movement. And we kinda knew that, and we used him a lot in pick-and-rolls because of that.”
Embiid writhed in pain for a few minutes after landing hard on his back but was able to knock down the free throws and continue playing. The fall did not seem to impact his movement, but he did notably struggle against the Laker defense the rest of the game.
Although Rivers seemed to think it should have been called a common foul, it would not have been surprising to see the officials call the foul on Embiid a flagrant 2 rather than their ruling. The NBA has made it a point of emphasis to eliminate those kinds of fouls, and although James did not seem to maliciously push Embiid, the referees still need to protect the players.
Fortunately, Embiid avoided a major injury and helped carry Philadelphia over a win against the defending champions.
LeBron James: 76ers should be among top teams in Eastern Conference
The 76ers entered the game against the Lakers as the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference and James gave them credit for getting this far.
“I think it’s a really good team that they put together,” James said. “Give a lot of credit to Elton Brand and the things they’re doing here. Obviously Doc has always won pretty much wherever he’s been, and he’s got them playing some really good basketball.
“As the season goes on there’s going to be a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference that are going to play championship basketball down the stretch. I know they believe that they are one of those teams.”
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