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Sixers 143, Lakers 120: Sixers crush Lakers behind explosive offense



BOX SCORE

Two games in the new look Sixers are looking like a problem

LeBron James may have been in the building, but it was the Sixers' stars who shined in a 143-120 win The win improves the Sixers to 23-6 at home and 36-20 overall.

Joel Embiid returned to his dominant form, Tobias Harris looked more aggressive in his second game and the starting five looked unstoppable at times.

Here are observations from the win.

• Brett Brown said again pregame that Embiid is still "the crown jewel" and the All-Star center reminded everyone of that in the national spotlight.

Embiid looked spry. There were at least two plays where the Lakers flat out forgot about Embiid ̵

1; somehow – and it led to easy buckets. That seemed to help Embiid got going early as he had 25 points at the half.

On one play Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got switched to the All-Star center. Embiid pulled a dream shake-like move and buried a fadeaway. It's just unfair what this guy can do about seven feet tall. There were a couple of sequences where Embiid got a little overzealous bringing the ball up the floor, which led to turnovers or not great shots.

He finished with 37 points and 14 rebounds for his league-leading 46th double-double.

• What continues to stand out about Harris is his all-around game. Sure, his elite three-point shooting has already been a great addition to the Sixers, but he offers so much more. He's able to pull the ball off the rim and bring it up court, similar to what Ben Simmons does.

The other aspect of his game that stood out early was his physicality around the rim. It's not something that is typical of him, but he could have played a bit when matched on smaller players.

James was busy chasing Simmons around. Harris is just one more matchup nightmare for Sixers' opponents.

Has made first six shots for 14 first-quarter points on his way to a 22-point, six-rebound and six-assist performance.

• There are certainly kinks that need to be worked out, but starting five shows is being completely and utterly dominant.

The ball movement at times is an absolute thing of beauty. If there were any issues with guys not getting enough touches or shots, you wouldn't know it. The ball never seems to be all five guys playing in unselfish fire or basketball. They also turned the ball over just seven times. If you are a team that likes to switch, you better be able to make it through five against these guys.

The communication is still an issue. On one possession, Simmons literally pushed Harris out to complete a switch. You can see defense is where the biggest growing pains are, not just with the starting five but with all of the new pieces.

There have been concerns about Jimmy Butler and his place in the offense since he was traded here. With Harris' arrival, that situation seemed like it was only going to get murkier, but that hasn't really been the case.

If anything, Butler has been more aggressive, something Brown has said repeatedly he's wanted to see. After hitting 14 or 14 free throws vs. Denver, Butler did not get to the line as often as possible, but was definitely making a concerted effort to get to the rim, finishing with 15 points on an effecient 6 of 10 from the field in 30 minutes. Surely Harris' presence has helped loosen things up for him.

• I was wondering when I'd sent this sentence for the first time: Ben Simmons took a three-pointer (see story )

Not a halfcourt at the end of a quarter, but a legitimate NBA three. He just missed it, as the ball rimmed out. This is a huge development if it continues to put them up. If he makes them, look out

Overall, Simmons had a rough shooting day. Who knows if it was the matchup against his mentor James, but Simmons was aggressive early. He went just 2 of 9 from the field in the first half and 3 of 13 for the game. The good news is Simmons turned the ball over just two hours after he did so nine times against Denver. He does this to get the ball over when he's decisive and looking for his own shot.

• Speaking of James, he was booed lustily on his first touch. It was his first appearance in Philadelphia as a maker since he chose Los Angeles. His representatives with the sixers over the summer, but it didn't appear that James was seriously considered Philadelphia as his destination. He was just a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

• Kyle Kuzma couldn't miss the Lakers early, making 4 of first 5 from three. One of several young players Los Angeles dangled to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis, Kuzma had one of these better games as a pro, pouring in 39 points on 14 of 21 overall.

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