On Nov. 15, Joel Embiid waltzed into L.A. and made the Staples Center his personal playground to the tune of 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and seven blocks.
The Lakers remembered every point and were determined to assert their dominance Thursday on national TV at the Wells Fargo Center in front of a sellout crowd sprinkled with Lakers fans.
In a highly anticipated rematch of the league's young, up-tempo teams that sport the most talked-about rookies in the league in the Sixers' Ben Simmons, and the Lakers' Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, the Lakers prevailed, beating the Sixers, 107-104.
Simmons had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists.
Embiid paced the Sixers with 33 points and timely buckets by Richaun Holmes made the final 12 minutes interesting, but the Lakers pulled away in the end.
"His bounce and his spirit really helped us," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Holmes after the game.
Holmes scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter, knotting the score at 101-101 on a dunk with 2 minutes, 22 seconds left, but back-to-back steals put the Lakers back in front. Embiid knotted the game again, 104-104, with free throws, but Brandon Ingram had no plans for overtime.
Ingram led the Lakers with 21 points on 7-of-21 shooting and hit the game-winning shot with less than a second left to play.
"I had the confidence to shoot it and follow through and knocked it down," Ingram said.
Ball scored only two points in the teams' previous matchup. He managed to finish the night 10 points with the Sixers faithful booing him every time he touched the ball.
Ball's famously talkative father, LaVar Ball, stood up from a suite midway through the final quarter and egged on the Philadelphia crowd that was quick to boo him.
This game wasn't about who could put up the most impressive offensive stat line — as evidenced by Simmons' triple-double not being much of a talking point or difference maker — or who had the most outspoken father. This game was about defense.
The Lakers finished the night with 15 offensive rebounds, 13 steals, seven blocks, and just 12 turnovers. The Sixers had 13 blocks but weren't as strong in the other areas. Brown said they knew the Lakers were going to be tough defensively, so he wasn't surprised.
"We brought it back and we just didn't execute," Simmons said, adding that the 18 Sixers turnovers were caused by laziness.
On a night that was nearly overshadowed by the trade of Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas to the Brooklyn Nets for Trevor Booker, the Sixers showed glimpses of grit followed by major lapses in defensive judgment.
"I didn't feel like we played with a sting. I didn't feel like our defense was at the intensity level that I'd wished it were," Brown said.
The Sixers would block a shot and steal the ball one minute and then stand around in the paint and watch the Lakers grab an offensive rebound without so much as batting an eye.
The Lakers' pace, offensive rebounds, and transition defense were all points of emphasis in the Sixers' plan of attack. All, including Embiid, agreed after the game that as a team they failed follow that plan.
"They had a lot of offensive rebounding and were moving the ball pretty well," he said. "We just didn't execute the game plan."
Embiid picked up his second foul early in the second quarter, but rather than take him out, Brown elected to let him play. Embiid responded by blocking Kuzma so hard he landed on his back and on the other end Holmes threw down a dunk.
It looked like the tide was about to change, but the Lakers stayed resolute in their staunch defense. In the third, after trailing by as many as 16 and with scant contribution from the bench, the Sixers again crawled back to within five points.
But a steal and streaking score by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope immediately followed by a steal and score by Andrew Bogut stopped the Sixers' momentum and the Lakers led, 79-70, heading into the final stanza.
Relying on stingy defense, the Lakers came up with two steals, three blocks, and forced four turnovers in the first quarter to lead by as many as 13 points.
In the waning minutes of the first period, coming out of a timeout, Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless were able to connect on three-pointers in back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 32-25.
But as was the story for the rest of the night, no matter how many small runs the Sixers put together, the Lakers were able to answer.