Joel Embiid tried to dive over LeBron James and instead his back slammed on the pitch. James’ push on the 76ers big man earned him a blatant 1 and Embiid called foul.
He wanted the king to be cast.
“It’s a very dangerous game,” Embiid said. “I guarantee you if it was me I probably would have been kicked out of the game.”
James stuck around – long enough to watch Tobias Harris stick him to the Lakers.
Harris threw a jumper with 3 seconds left, ending the Lakers’ 13-0 run and sending Philadelphia to a 107-106 victory over Los Angeles.
The blatant James-Embiid took center stage in a match between the teams who entered their conferences with the best records. The 76ers lead the East with 13-6 and the Lakers 14-5 in the West.
“Some people think we haven’t played anyone,” said Harris. “For us, we wanted to face the champions. We wanted to see where we are.”
Philly was almost a loser.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 left that shot the Lakers to 105-104. James hit Anthony Davis for the approval basket with 11.2 seconds left for a 106-105 lead to cap that run.
Harris – who campaigned for an All-Star nod – saved the Sixers on a shot at Alex Caruso.
Harris scored 24 points. Embiid had 28 and Ben Simmons had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
“It’s funny, on his low scoring nights you watch the movie of the game and it flies all over the place,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said of Simmons.
“What he does for us. The winning things he does is hard to put numbers into numbers and unfortunately we’re in this generation of numbers where everything is numbers, and a lot of people miss his talent sometimes. “
James scored 34 points and Davis 23.
“It didn’t go in our direction, but I loved our fight,” said James, who was frequently babysat by Simmons in master versus apprentice moments.
The couple are close and Simmons is represented by the James Klutch Sports agency.
“I go out there and usually keep the best guy on the floor every night or someone who is going to have a big impact in the game,” Simmons said.
“I’m proud of it. I’m not trying to go out and win awards, I’m personally proud to go out and stop guys and make it hard for them every night.
“It’s a big part of the game. They say defense wins championships, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Embiid, the All-Star center for the best start of his career, drove over the baseline for a right-handed dunk attempt when James pushed him in flight. Embiid crashed hard on his tailbone, immediately grabbed his back and twisted on the ground in pain as James simply looked down and walked past him. After a short video review, James was hit with a blatant 1 – “unnecessary contact by a player against an opponent” – and Embiid sank both free throws.
Embiid was quickly hit with his own flagrant when his elbow connected with Davis’s face during a drive to bucket.
Embiid has a history of back problems and missed Monday’s loss to Detroit with back strain. He sat alone on a cooling seat behind the basket for nearly the first 5 minutes of the fourth quarter. Embiid came back and threw his hands up in celebration when he buried a shot that gave the Sixers a 10-point lead.
Embiid said James’ fault should have been a blatant 2 – an automatic ejection.
“Obviously he wasn’t the same after that when it came to his movement,” said coach Doc Rivers.
The Lakers suffered their first road loss of the season in 11 games.
Lakers: Coach Frank Vogel was a die-hard 76ers fan who grew up in New Jersey and eventually spent a season as an assistant coach in the 2004-05 season. His trips to Philadelphia are usually a big homecoming, but the pandemic has sidelined those plans. Vogel said he hadn’t seen his parents since he had dinner with them during the Lakers’ last visit to Philadelphia. He said the 1983 NBA 76ers Championship and the Charles Barkley-Allen Iverson years “were a big part of my education.”
76ers: Simmons ranked 13th on the NBA’s career triple-double list with 31.
Kobe Bryant’s widow gives heartfelt praise
The Lakers played in Philadelphia for the first time since January 25, 2020, when James passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s career scorecard. Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed the next morning in a helicopter crash.
A year and a day after Bryant’s death, the Lakers played for the first time since the grim anniversary and bowed their heads during a brief video tribute and moment of silence for Bryant.
Embiid was a teenager in Africa when he became addicted to basketball watching Bryant and wore sneakers on Wednesday with pictures of Kobe and Gianna on one side and uniform numbers 2, 8, 24 on the other .
Green center and backup Dwight Howard played a key role in the Lakers’ championship last season. Green landed in Philadelphia through a trade and Howard signed a one-year contract.
“I miss those guys,” Vogel said. “These are two guys who really played their roles. It’s so necessary in a championship. We don’t win a championship without these guys.”