LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers thinks Al Horford will fit in with the 76ers. Especially in the playoffs.
“It’s going to work out,” Rivers said before beating the Sixers, 136-130, Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center.
“It’s going to be great for [Horford]," the coach added. “Al Horford’s an NBA player, who’s a terrific player. He’s one of the low-maintenance stars who’s willing to do whatever it takes.”
Horford finished with 12 points and team highs of 8 rebounds and 6 assists before fouling out with 4 minutes, 25 seconds left. It was the 33-year-old’s fourth straight game back in the starting lineup because of injuries to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
He was initially demoted from the starting lineup before the Sixers’ Feb. 11 game against the Clippers at the Wells Fargo Center. It was the first time Horford didn’t start in a game since his rookie season for the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 21, 2007.
He came off the bench in the Sixers’ next two games against the Brooklyn Nets (Feb. 20) and Milwaukee Bucks (Feb. 22). The demotion had a lot to do with Horford and Embiid not fitting well together. The spacing was horrible when the two post players and Simmons were in the same lineup.
However, the Sixers started Horford against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 24 since Simmons is out with a pinched nerve in his lower back. Embiid suffered a first-quarter, game-ending left shoulder sprain versus the Cleveland Cavaliers two nights later. Horford was solid in his last three games back in the starting lineup, averaging 12.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists.
“If he’s got to come off the bench, he’ll come off the bench,” Rivers said. “It’ll work out. I really believe that. Once the playoffs starts, if they’re all healthy -- obviously, if they’re all healthy -- Al will fit and have a good playoff run.”
Simmons is expected to miss a considerable amount of time. Coach Brett Brown said Sunday that Embiid is expected to miss the remaining three games of this West Coast trip. The Sixers face the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night at the Staples Center. Then they travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Thursday before facing the Warriors in San Francisco on Saturday.
The game marked the first time Tobias Harris and Mike Scott played at the Staples Center since the Clippers traded them to the Sixers on Feb. 6, 2019.
The Clippers honored both players with separate video tributes during first-quarter timeouts.
“I was excited just to be back here and playing,” said Harris, who finished with 25 points against his former team. “The [video tribute] from the [Clippers] was cool, too. Not too much real emotion. I was happy for the embracement from the fans. So that was also cool, and I appreciate it.”
Scott finished with 11 points in a reserve role.