Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

Three Things to Know: Lakers at 76ers - 1/27/22

by Matthew Barrero

The Lakers (24-24) are halfway through their season-long road trip, following a 106-96 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. Tonight, they’ll look for their third win in four games when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers (28-19). Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.

Here are three things to know before tonight’s matchup:

BACK LIKE HE NEVER LEFT
Anthony Davis returned to action on Tuesday following a 17-game absence and immediately made his presence felt. On the first play of the game, LeBron found AD for an alley-oop and sent the Lakers fans inside Barclays Center into a frenzy.

Despite the pass being slightly behind Davis, the big man was able to utilize his 7-foot, 6-inch wingspan and throw the ball through the basket. Davis went on to play 25 minutes and contributed eight points, two rebounds, two assists, a steal, and an impressive four blocks to the Lakers victory.

Davis spoke with Mike Trudell about how he felt in his first contest back.

“[Physically] I felt great,” Davis explained. “In the first four minutes my wind was fine. Just trying to fly around, got some good looks that didn’t go through but tried to do it on the defensive end to help my team. The knee felt fine and we’re ready for Philly.”

THE KING VS THE PROCESS
LeBron continued his season tear after scoring 33 points against the Nets on Tuesday. The 25-plus point streak is now at 18 games in a row (fifth-longest in Lakers history) and as James pointed out in his postgame interview, “I have a passion and drive for this sport. It’s all about putting on your hard hat and putting in the work on the floor.”

LeBron was basically perfect on two-point field goals (finished 10-of-11) and executed on the defensive side of the ball with impressive steals on back-to-back plays in the fourth (“channeled my inner Ed Reed,” he told Mike Trudell).

Equally on a tear of his own is the Sixers’ Joel Embiid. The center from Cameroon has been posting ridiculous numbers over the similar stretch as LBJ, scoring 30-plus points in 14 of his last 15 games (scored 25 points in the other).

In his last five games, Embiid is averaging 40.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, and is shooting 56.5 percent from the field.

Most recently, in a game against Orlando (Jan. 19), Embiid scored 50 points in less than 28 minutes. Not only did it tie a career high in points, but it also marked the second time since the 1982-83 season that a player scored 50-plus points in less than 28 minutes. Embiid also became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1996, to score at least 50 points, register 12 rebounds, and shoot better than 73.0 percent from the field.

LeBron and Embiid are currently second (29.1) and third (29.0) in the league in points per game, and first (22 games) and second (21 games) with 30-plus points, respectively. Expect these two to be at the forefront of a shootout in the City of Brotherly Love.

FUNDAMENTAL FREEBIES
The Lakers have struggled from the charity stripe all season long, shooting 73.8 percent (currently ranked 27th in the NBA). Austin Reaves leads the team from the line shooting 86.5 percent but has only been to the line 37 times.

LeBron, AD, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony are the only Lakers to get to the line 100-plus times and Melo leads the quartet shooting 82.1 percent (the others are all shooting under 76.0 percent).

Despite the season struggles, L.A. has done a better job knocking down their free throws so far on the road trip. They are 53-of-63 (84.2 percent) and were perfect in Tuesday’s win over the Nets (first time all season shooting 100.0 percent).

Philly on the other hand has the third-best shooting percentage from the line (81.6) and have shot 85.3 percent (64-of-75). Embiid, specifically, leads the NBA in total free throws (321) and is second in FT attempts (392). In the Sixers last game, Embiid alone matched the Pelicans in made free throws (finished 18-of-20, Pelicans went 18-of-26).

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