The Los Angeles Lakers put their unbeaten road record on the line Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
The Lakers improved to 10-0 away from home on Monday at Cleveland, 115-108, as LeBron James celebrated his homecoming with a season-high 46 points on 19-of-26 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.
James scored 21 in the fourth quarter.
“When he’s playing like that, it’s fun to watch,” teammate Anthony Davis said. “When he had what 19, 17 in the first? It’s over. … He wasn’t missing. He was everywhere on the floor.”
Only four other players in NBA history have scored at least 46 points in a game once they reached the age of 36. The others? The late Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Jamal Crawford.
“Pretty awesome to see that he can still turn it up like that,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “The shot-making was just ridiculous.”
The Lakers weren’t scheduled to have any team activities on Tuesday so they could remember Bryant, who died one year ago. Last season in Philadelphia, James passed Bryant on the league’s all-time scoring list.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Lakers were celebrating another championship in the bubble near Orlando. With a short turnaround to this season, James still refuses to show any signs of slowing down.
“I’ve just never put a ceiling on my potential,” James said. “I always wanted to continue to get better and better and better to a point where I also now can dictate (what) the defense can do. And the defense can’t dictate what I’m supposed to do.”
The Sixers will enter this matchup with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 12-6. They have won nine of their first 10 games at home.
But Philadelphia is looking to bounce back from a 119-104 loss on the road to the Detroit Pistons on Monday. The 76ers played without Joel Embiid (back) and fell to 0-4 without the All Star this season.
Embiid is likely to start against the Lakers.
“Yes, his back is tight and we want to get through the season with everyone healthy again,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said of Embiid. “So it’s the right thing to do.”
Ben Simmons struggled mightily against the Pistons with only 11 points in 21 minutes. Seth Curry shot 2 of 10 and the 76ers never found any kind of offensive rhythm.
“Without Joel and with Ben in early foul trouble, your team gets really thin,” Rivers said.
Embiid, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, is clearly one of the candidates in the conversation for Most Valuable Player. That has been especially noticeable when he doesn’t play. The Sixers are simply not the same team.
Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, hasn’t played to the level of years past. He has been reluctant to shoot and has lacked some aggressiveness.
“But ultimately, I just want to win,” Simmons said. “How I’m ready to do that is whether it’s getting 10 steals and no points and no rebounds or 50 assists, whatever it is, I’m going to do.”
–Field Level Media