On Thursday night in Philadelphia, Ben Simmons recorded a triple-double and Joel Embiid led all scorers with 33 points, but the Los Angeles Lakers claimed the victory in a perfect advertisment for the team's future.
Lonzo Ball sucked in the defense and found a wide-open Brandon Ingram for the game winning three-pointer that passed through the net with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 107-104 victory and snap a five-game losing streak.
Ingram led the Lakers with 22 points on the night, while Ball put up 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four blocks and three steals with no turnovers in an impressive box score-stuffing performance. Both Ingram and Ball are 20 years old, and Thursday night felt like a signature win for a Lakers' team hoping for Ball and Ingram to lead the team for the foreseeable future.
Simmons' 12 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds should not be overlooked and would have been the leading story if the Sixers had pulled off the comeback, but the Lakers deresved this victory. They earned it by playing a cleaner game for 48 minutes. After back-to-back 20-plus-turnover games, the Lakers only turned the ball over 12 times against the Sixers.
In addition, the Lakers' defense forced mistakes and got out in transition off those mistakes. The Sixers turned the ball over 18 times on Thursday, and the Lakers scored 25 points off those Philadelphia errors.
If the Lakers had simply been able to hit their foul shots, the game would have been put to bed earlier. The Lakers missed half of their 24 foul shots, with Ingram leading the struggles with a 5-10 performance from the charity stripe.
The Lakers' second-year forward came out of the blocks hot and scored the game's first four points. He continued to build on his fast start but seemed to quiet down for much of the second half. Then, Ingram came to life late in the fourth quarter and found Julius Randle with an impressive hip-level pass on a drive. Ingram, of course, capped off the performance by draining the three-pointer for the win.
In terms of game flow, the Lakers took an early lead and led by as many as 16 points on the night and even held a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.
With four minutes to play, though, the Sixers only trailed by one point after being inspired by Embiid and Simmons. Robert Covington got cooking late, as the Sixers' forward hit four of his six three-point attempts on the night and finished with 19 points in the loss.
Richuan Holmes, a third-year power forward, also played a role in the Sixers' late push and finished with 13 points off the Sixers' bench. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Holmes accounted for all of Philadelphia's bench scoring, while Randle and Jordan Clarkson evenly split 32 points off the Lakers' bench. Overall, the Lakers' bench outscored the Sixers' bench 41 to 13.
All five starters from both teams scored in double figures, further providing evidence of ball movement and balance in a fast-paced game that was fun to watch for the neutral fans.
Ultimately, the Lakers won and the two teams split their season series, with each team winning on the road. The Lakers improved to 9-15 on the season, while the Sixers dropped to 13-11.
Next, LA plays in Charlotte on Saturday.