Big Game, Big Win

by Lauren Rosen

The lights, bright.

The opponent, formidable.

The 76ers, big winners.

Hosting the Los Angeles Lakers (36-10) for Saturday’s primetime matchup, the shorthanded 76ers (30-17) made quite the statement with a 108-91 win.

Here’s some of what was said postgame:

Al Horford (16 pts, 6 reb, 1 stl) scored seven straight points down the stretch which helped seal the Sixers’ victory. Following the game, he applauded his teammates’ determination and togetherness:

“I thought it was a big game coming into it, and I think it’s a big win. It’s a really big win. Obviously we’re missing some starters. I think the way that Ben and Tobias came out, and established it for us, and set the tone for our group, I think it went a long way. This is a huge win. I know people get caught up - it’s January, it’s whatever - it’s a huge win. And that’s a really good team over there. So I’m really proud of our group.”

Ben Simmons (28 pts, 10 reb, 8 ast, 4 stl) and Tobias Harris (29 pts, 8 reb, 1 blk) delivered huge performances on both ends of the floor. Brett Brown applauded Harris’ drive as a scorer:

“His spirit, his mentality, his downhill aggression. Even at the end, he’s telling me ‘I got it.’ I thought that his mentality to hunt hoops, find buckets, was big tonight. Good for him. He had a heck of a game.”

Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Simmons and Matisse Thybulle combined for nine steals for the second time in three games. Brown gave his props to the lockdown duo:

“What I do know, is that when [Ben and Matisse] collectively put their minds to it, they are as disruptive as anybody in the NBA, just with their athleticism and their length. If you can wind them up, on the road or at home, it adds another layer to what their physical gifts are. I thought defensively, we were pretty good… Those two fueled that type of energy.”

On the other side of the ball was, of course, LeBron James, who had a historic night. Passing Kobe Bryant and moving into third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, James said postgame that he hopes he can be for Simmons what Bryant has been for him:

“It’s pretty amazing, it’s pretty much how I’m going to be when I’m done playing - being able to come back and watch this beautiful game, and hopefully somebody’s still playing the game at a high level. That guy across the hallway, Ben Simmons, I can sit and watch him, and see how much he’s continued to grow, and watch him continue to do what he do. He’s growing every day.”

Thybulle got his first-ever reps guarding James early in Saturday’s contest, and picking a steal off one of the greatest of all time seconds into his assignment. Keeping a cool head, the rookie said he treated the moment with the same determination he brings to any matchup:

“I mean it was cool. My friends were probably really excited, and my dad was probably screaming. But for me, like anyone, it’s just a challenge. Taking it, and taking it head on - I’m not going to let you score on me. I take pride in that. Just being able to take advantage of an opening that I saw, and it worked out.”

Shake Milton (7 pts, 9 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl) got his first career start Saturday in the absence of Josh Richardson (hamstring). Faced with a big moment, Milton kept calm, played his game, and made his mark. Tobias Harris praised the second-year player postgame:

“I thought he did great. Shake came in, he had great energy for us. Went to the glass - I think he had nine boards. Made big shots, just played in his game. He didn’t try to do anything too out of the ordinary. It was a good compliment to the guys we had on the floor. For him, too, he’s a kid who comes in and works every single day. Now, he’s getting presented with an opportunity, and he did a great job at that. There’s a lot more that he can do too. He’ll continue to build his confidence, and go forward with that.”

The Sixers’ next matchup comes Tuesday, hosting the Golden State Warriors at The Center.

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