Em­biid, Six­ers sink Lak­ers

Cen­ter has league-best 23rd game with at least 30 points and 10 boards in rout of Lebron & Co.

The Times-Tribune - - BASKETBALL - BY DAVE ZEITLIN

PHILADEL­PHIA — Magic John­son and Lebron James have cap­tured eight NBA ti­tles be­tween them. With John­son in the stands and James on the court, the Philadel­phia 76ers showed off their own cham­pi­onship po­ten­tial.

Joel Em­biid had 37 points and 14 re­bounds, To­bias Har­ris scored 22 points in his sec­ond game with Philadel­phia, and the new-look 76ers beat James and the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers, 143-120, on Sun­day.

JJ Redick added 21 points for the Six­ers, who have won two straight af­ter ac­quir­ing Har­ris and four oth­ers at Thurs­day’s trade dead­line. Jimmy But­ler fin­ished with 15 points in front of a packed Philly crowd that brought a play­off-like feel to the na­tion­ally tele­vised game.

“The East bet­ter watch out,” said John­son, the Lak­ers pres­i­dent who made the trip to Philly for the game. “This is a stacked team.”

Kyle Kuzma led the Lak­ers with 39 points while James had 18 points, 10 re­bounds and nine as­sists.

James was fac­ing Philadel­phia for the first time since the Six­ers made a big push to sign the su­per­star as a free agent last sum­mer. He and Kuzma both missed the last matchup with Philly on Jan. 29, which the Six­ers won, 121-105.

“I thought they were go­ing to be very good any­way be­fore they made any moves, be­fore the sea­son even started,” James said. “And they’ve made a bunch of moves to im­prove their club.”

Fresh off a buzzer-beat­ing win at Bos­ton, the Lak­ers shot nearly 60 per­cent and scored 40 points in the first quar­ter. But fu­eled by Redick’s four-point play, the Six­ers closed the first half on a 19-6 run to take a 76-67 lead into half­time.

Em­biid, who was ques­tion­able to play be­cause of gas­troen­teri­tis, led the charge with 25 points in the first half af­ter light­ing up the Lak­ers for 28 in the teams’ first matchup.

“I must not be a big L.A. fan,” said Em­biid, who had his league-lead­ing 23rd game with at least 30 points and 10 re­bounds. “It’s fun. I’ve been more con­sis­tent against both LA teams.”

Philadel­phia’s lead bal­looned to 109-94 at the end of the third quar­ter af­ter T.J. Mccon­nell’s 3-pointer in the closing sec­onds. The Six­ers ran away with the game from there while glee­ful fans chanted “Kobe’s bet­ter” at James.

“We had too many break­downs,” James said. “Way too many break­downs.”

Tip-ins

■ John­son said be­fore the game that he didn’t be­lieve the New Or­leans Pel­i­cans en­gaged in good­faith ne­go­ti­a­tions at the trade dead­line dur­ing the Lak­ers’ pursuit of Anthony Davis. John­son added that the LA play­ers who were on the trade block are pro­fes­sion­als who are ca­pa­ble of mov­ing for­ward. “This is how this league works,” he said. “They know it. I know it.”

■ Mike Mus­cala, one of two play­ers the Lak­ers ac­quired at the dead­line, had eight points in 13 min­utes against the team he spent the first half of the sea­son with be­fore be­ing dealt.

■ Ea­gles quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz, film di­rec­tor M. Night Shya­malan, New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner Bob Kraft and Los An­ge­les An­gels out­fielder Mike Trout were in at­ten­dance. So was new Philadel­phia Union mid­fielder and Mex­i­can na­tional team star Marco Fabian, who swapped jer­seys with fel­low Philly new­comer Har­ris af­ter the game.

■ The Six­ers scored at least 33 points in each quar­ter — the first time the team has done so since 1986.

Reach­ing out

John­son re­vealed that Sim­mons has reached out to the Lak­ers about work­ing out with him this sum­mer to learn more about play­ing the “po­si­tion as a big guard.” Pend­ing league ap­proval, John­son noted he’d be happy to ac­com­mo­date such a wish.

“I love his game,” John­son said. “I love his vi­sion.”

Said Sim­mons: “Try­ing to learn from some­body like that would be huge.”

CHRIS SZAGOLA / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Los An­ge­les Lak­ers’ Lebron James, left, goes up for the shot as Philadel­phia 76ers’ Ben Sim­mons, cen­ter, and Jimmy But­ler look on dur­ing the sec­ond half of Sun­day’s NBA game in Philadel­phia. The 76ers won, 143-120.

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