PHILADELPHIA — Shortly after his Philadelphia 76ers escaped with a 133-122 overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Sixers coach Doc Rivers settled into a chair in the hall. press conference and, before he could answer a question, summed up how his night played out.
“I thought we were going to start about 15 minutes ago,” Rivers said with a smile.
So did virtually everyone inside the Wells Fargo Center here on Friday night when Joel Embiid split a pair of free throws to make it 119-110 with 34.8 seconds left in regulation.
From there, however, a comedy of errors saw the Lakers not only get back into the game — but even have a chance to win it in regulation.
The Sixers committed three turnovers in the space of 21.6 seconds, along with a pair of free throws, to give their opponents a life they never should have had.
“I’m just trying to figure out what 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 collapse of the Philadelphia’s fourth quarter. “He should never have been in that position. But I’m glad we had another chance, and we went into extra time and shut it down.”
While Philadelphia did its part to give Los Angeles a chance, the Lakers did a lot to help their own cause, getting a layup from Patrick Beverley, a pair of free throws from Anthony Davis and a 3-pointer from Austin. Reaves to shoot inside 120-117 with 10.5 seconds to go.
At that point, Reaves was fouled by Matisse Thybulle on a 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left, sending the sophomore forward to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game. . But after Reaves made the first two free throws, he missed the third. In the ensuing rugby scrum for the ball, he was last touched by LeBron James – giving Philadelphia the ball with 5.5 seconds left and a chance, finally, to get the ball in successfully.
Instead, Tobias Harris threw a pass in the air to Embiid after he had nowhere to go with the ball – only for it to hit Embiid in the face and rebound.
The ball ended up in the hands of Davis, who then executed a back-and-forth with Russell Westbrook before Harris committed it with 3.7 seconds remaining.
But with a chance to put the Lakers ahead — and on the verge of a truly unlikely win, given Philadelphia had no more timeouts — Davis missed the second free throw, giving the 76ers new life and sending the game to overtime instead. .
“It hurts, for sure,” 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’re doing the first one.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to make free throws, especially in this kind of situation. I’m still a little shocked that I missed that.”
As dramatic as the late game streak was, the overtime period proved rather disappointing. Rather than continue their descent into madness in the extra session, Philadelphia immediately got their bearings, beating Los Angeles 13-2 in the extra session, as Westbrook missed more shots on his own (0 for 5 ) than the 76ers took any. team in the overtime period (3 for 4, plus a perfect 7 for 7 from the free throw line).
“Honestly, probably just the disappointment of missing this [lead] and allow him to get closer,” Harris said, 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 eclipsed guard De’Anthony Melton’s career game, who finished with 33 points on 11 of 16 total shots, including 8 of 12 shooting, to go along with seven interceptions. .
“Honestly, my teammates had just found me,” Melton said. “Some of these passes, the way they passed, I mean, I’m pretty sure they didn’t think they were going to pass. But they kept passing, they kept finding me , and they kept letting me open so I kept filming it, and filming it with confidence.”
Even if the 76ers got there, after a disastrous performance in the final moments of Monday’s loss in Houston to the lowly Rockets, coupled with their late weaknesses in that one, Rivers said those issues will be resolved in the future. coming.
“All of our guards, we all have to come to the ball,” Rivers said. “We have to open up. We have to play fouls at the end of the game…it can’t happen. We’re going to solve this problem.”
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.