LOS ANGELES — You knew this would happen.
An already underachieving team can’t go into the Staples Center without its two All-Stars and another starter with realistic expectations to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers.
So nothing was surprising about the 76ers’ 120-107 loss to the best team in the Western Conference on Tuesday night.
As a result, the Sixers (37-25) suffered their ninth consecutive road loss. They are 9-23 away from home. Meanwhile, the Lakers (47-13) have won nine of their last 10 games.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James had a major hand in the outcome. Davis finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks, while James added 22 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
Reserve Glenn Robinson III paced the Sixers with a career-high 25 points while making 3 of 5 three-pointers. Robinson, who came to Philly in a Feb. 6 trade from the Golden State Warriors, was 0-for-10 on three-pointers as a Sixer heading into the game.
“It was always going to be a difficult game,” coach Brett Brown said. “But my criteria going into it was, did we get something out of it? Did we move the needle a little bit? And I believe that we did. I think to get something out of Glenn Robinson was big tonight.”
The Sixers were already without All-Stars Ben Simmons (pinched nerve, lower back) and Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) before Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at the arena. But Josh Richardson (concussion, bruised nose) went out early in the second quarter of that setback.
As a result, the Sixers had a starting lineup of Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton. Of the group, Harris and Horford were the only opening-day starters, and Horford was demoted from the starting lineup on Feb. 11 against the Clippers. He returned on Feb. 24 against the Atlanta Hawks after Simmons’ injury.
Meanwhile, reserve point Raul Neto was the ninth man off the bench and received first-quarter action on Tuesday. This marked his first game appearance since playing just 6 minutes, 20 seconds of garbage time against the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 22.
On this night, the Sixers played 10 of their 11 available players.
Milton didn’t come close to duplicating his career-high 39 points scored against the Clippers on Sunday. A lot of that had to do with being guarded by Avery Bradley.
The Sixers point guard finished with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting — making 2 of 6 three-pointers — and 6 assists in 28 minutes, 39 seconds. He had 4 fouls. The second-year player was constantly hounded by Bradley.
Despite his outing, the Sixers looked capable of pulling off the major upset early on. They had a 35-28 lead after one quarter and extended it to 13 points (44-31) with 8:49 left in the second quarter.
But led by Davis, the Lakers went on to outscore the Sixers by 34-10 in the rest of the quarter. The seven-time All-Star scored 18 points in the quarter on 7-for-7 shooting — including two three-pointers. He also had two steals and graded out with a plus-24 in the quarter.
The Lakers closed out the final 5:04 of the half on a 22-4 run. The Sixers missed 6 of 7 shots during that stretch and committed 4 of their 7 first-half turnovers.
“The end of the second quarter hurt us," Harris said. "I think the real way the game really slipped was their defensive intensity. From there, it rushed us.
“I feel the second half, we didn’t really get into much of an offensive execution on we wanted to get in the half court, and that was just tough from there.”
Davis continued where he left off at the start of the third quarter, burying a three-pointer to put the Lakers up 14 points just 13 seconds into the second half.
Perhaps the highlight of the half went to James, while burying a 36-foot three-pointer to make it a 73-54 game 1:14 into the third quarter.
Twenty-four seconds later, the Lakers extended their lead to 21 points on JaVale McGee’s transition dunk. The Sixers pulled within eight points (100-92) on Harris’ three-pointer with 8:35 left to play. But that was a close as they would get.
“I just feel like, as a whole, they were being physical the whole night,” Milton said. “They kind of got us out of our rhythm. We we were doing well in the second half, they kind of made their run and they just kind of upped their physicality. We didn’t really respond to that too well."
Brown, his bench coaches and head trainer Kevin Johnson all wore Nike Zoom Kobe 5 Protro Big Stage Parade sneakers in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. The former Lower Merion and Lakers great was among the nine killed in a helicopter crash last month outside Los Angeles.
“It’s our way, a very small way, but it’s our way of showing the level of respect and appreciation and gratitude for everything he did for the sport,” Brown said, “what he meant to this city and this building.