Game Preview | Hosting One of the League’s Best

by Lauren Rosen

The 76ers (29-17) will face one of their biggest tests of the season Saturday night, when they host the Los Angeles Lakers (36-9).

But true to form, the Sixers are eager to see how they stack up.

“We are coming into the game knowing that our home record has been dominant,” Brett Brown said at Friday’s practice. “They’re one of the hottest teams in the NBA, and I think that our group responds well to those challenges.”

Al Horford, who has faced LeBron James many times throughout his decorated career, says a win on Saturday will require a collaborative, relentless effort.

“It’s a big challenge. They’re playing really well,” Horford said. “It really is going to take every single guy, to come in there and do their thing to give us a chance to win.”

It’s been an impressive couple of weeks for Furkan Korkmaz, who has scored in double-digits off the bench in his last five outings, including a pair of 17-point performances on the Sixers’ latest road trip. He’s hit 42.9% of his threes during this stretch.

Korkmaz knows that whenever James is in the building, the defensive end of the floor is just as important.

“Of course we’re going to try to stop [LeBron], we’re going to try to execute the defensive gameplan. As a team, they play really good basketball. Tomorrow is going to be challenging on the court against LeBron - we just need to take that challenge, and try to do our best,” Korkmaz said.

Fortunately for the Sixers, they have had reps guarding generational talent this season. When the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks visited South Philadelphia on Christmas Day, the Sixers held reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to shoot 8-of-27 from the field.

Horford says the team will draw on such experiences in pursuit of a W.

“Like Giannis, and Ben - all five guys have to be very aware of [LeBron]. One-on-one individually, you’re not going to be able to contain a guy like that. So we have to make sure that we do a good job of really showing a crowd, and contesting his shots.” 

Saturday’s primetime contest tips at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Opponent Outlook:

Holding the best record in the Western Conference, the 36-9 Lakers have won three of the first four games on their five-game road trip. Most recently, the team topped Brooklyn Thursday, behind James’ 27-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

In his 16th season of NBA play, James has continued to add to his game. Averaging a career-high 10.8 assists per game, he’s also contributing 25.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his second season as a Laker.

In his first season as a Laker, Anthony Davis leads the team in scoring, averaging 26.3 points per game, along with 9.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

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