LOS ANGELES – Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 115-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night at the Staples Center.
Joel Embiid is the best center in the NBA, when healthy. And it might not even be close. The 76er displayed moves that centers aren't supposed to make in Wednesday's victory. He also was tough to penetrate against at the rim and had a solid all-around game en route to becoming the first player in NBA history to collect 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks.
Right now, Jordan Clarkson is the best Lakers point guard. He kept the Sixers on their heels, and Lonzo Ball looked as if the moment was too fast for him. The second overall pick in June's draft is expected to have a solid overall career. But Clarkson gives them the best opportunity to win now.
Ben Simmons' defense is underrated. I was one of many people who said the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder could not defend point guards. Well, he had another solid performance while spending time guarding them Wednesday. Simmons even finished with a game-high five steals and one block against the Lakers.
The Sixers should have two NBA all-stars this season. It would be one of the biggest snubs in league history if Embiid is somehow left out of the game. Meanwhile, as he's done before, Simmons finished with 18 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to show why he should be the first rookie to play in the game since Clippers power forward Blake Griffin in 2011.
Kyle Kuzma is the best Lakers rookie. The power forward kept bringing the heat against the Sixers. He scored 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. His most exciting play came on missed dunk attempt over Embiid. The play would have been a highlight on just about every sports show in the country if he had made the dunk.
“Best” and “worst” awards
Best performance: Embiid is the obvious choice. It was the first time a Sixer scored at least 40 points since Allen Iverson had 45 on Nov. 27, 2006 in a road loss to the Miami Heat. Embiid scored 19 of the Sixers' 32 fourth-quarter points. He also had career highs in made shots (14), made free throws (16) and free-throw attempts (19).
Worst performance: Ball had two points on 1-for-9 shooting, including 0 for 6 on three-pointers. He had just as many turnovers (two) as assists (two) en route to grading out with a game-worst minus-18 (meaning the Lakers were outscored 18 points while Ball was on the floor). That could have led to his being benched in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game.
Best defensive performance: Embiid has to get this one with a career-high seven blocks.
Worst statistic: This goes to the Lakers' making just 11.1 percent (3 of 27) of their three-point attempts.
Best statistic: Embiid turned the ball over just twice. The big man is averaging 4.4 turnovers per game.
Worst of the worst: Lakers fans headed for the exits after JJ Redick's foul shot gave the Sixers a six-point cushion with 24.8 seconds left. How about sticking around to the end to show your squad some support for playing a solid game?