76ers blow late lead but ‘glad’ for chance to take down Lakers in OT

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PHILADELPHIA – Shortly after his 76ers escaped with a 133-122 overtime victory over the Lakers, Coach Doc Rivers quietly settled into a chair before the press conference and, before he could answer a question, recap how his evening had gone.

“I thought we were going to start this about 15 minutes ago,” Rivers said with a smile.

So did pretty much everyone at Wells Fargo Center on Friday night when Joel Embiid split a pair of free throws to make it 119-110 with 34.8 seconds left in the rules.

From there, a comedy of errors allowed the Lakers to not only get back into the game, but also have a chance to win it by the rules.

The Sixers lost the ball three times in 21.6 seconds and split a pair of free throws to take the lives of their opponents.

“I was just trying to figure out what the hell was going on, honestly,” said Embiid, who had 38 points and 12 rebounds in 46 minutes, when asked what was going through his mind during the Philadelphia collapse in the fourth quarter. “It should never have been in that position. But I’m glad we got another chance, and we went into extra time and closed it.”

While Philadelphia did its part to give Los Angeles a chance, the Lakers did enough to help their own cause, with a layup from Patrick Beverley, pair of free throws from Anthony Davis and a 3-pointer from Austin Reaves to get in. to come. 120-117 with 10.5 seconds left.

At that point, Reaves was fouled by Matisse Thybulle on a 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds remaining, sending the sophomore to the free throw line with a chance to tie the score. But after Reaves made the first two free throws, he missed the third. In the ensuing scrum for the ball, the ball was finally touched for the last time by LeBron James, giving Philadelphia possession with 5.5 seconds left and a chance to finally successfully get the ball in.

Instead, Tobias Harris threw a pass in the air towards Embiid after he had nowhere to go with the ball – only to hit Embiid in the face and bounce off.

The ball landed in the hands of Davis, who then executed a give-and-go with Russell Westbrook before Harris fouled him with 3.7 seconds remaining.

But with a chance to put the Lakers at 1 – and on the verge of securing a truly improbable victory as Philadelphia ran out of timeouts – Davis missed the second free throw, giving the 76ers a new lease of life and the game went to extra time instead.

“It sure hurts,” said Davis, who finished with 31 points — 25 of them after halftime — 12 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 36 minutes. “Especially when you make the first.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to make free throws, especially in situations like that. I’m still a little shocked that I missed it.”

Because as dramatic as the series at the end of the game was, the overtime period ended up being quite an anticlimax. Instead of continuing their descent into madness in the extra session, Philadelphia immediately got their groove on, beating Los Angeles 13-2 in the extra session, as Westbrook himself missed more shots (0-for-5) than the 76ers took as a team in overtime (hit 3-for-4, plus a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line).

“Honestly, probably just the disappointment of screwing that up [lead] and let it get so close,” said Harris, when asked how he and his teammates got back on track.

“We knew we had to do everything we could to get out of here with a win.”

The bizarre collapse in the final moments overshadowed the game of guard De’Anthony Melton’s career, who finished with 33 points on 11-for-16 shooting, including 8-for-12 on 3-pointers, to go along with seven to steal.

“Honestly, my teammates were just finding me,” said Melton. “Some of those passes, the way they came through, I mean I’m pretty sure they didn’t think they were going to come through. But they kept coming through, they kept finding me and they left me open, so I kept shooting and shooting with confidence.”

While the 76ers managed, after a disastrous performance in the closing moments of Monday’s loss in Houston to the lowly Rockets, coupled with their weaknesses late in this one, Rivers said those issues will be worked out in the future.

“All our guards, we all have to come to the ball,” Rivers said. “We have to open up. We have to play through mistakes at the end of the game… it can’t happen. We will fix that.”

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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