LOS ANGELES – The one thing you can say about the undermanned 76ers is that they’re competing.
From the start, the Sixers’ four-game California road trip was a steep uphill battle, considering they’re minus All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The task only got tougher when Josh Richardson, a third starter, was lost early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
But the Sixers remained competitive in that contest before eventually losing 136-130 to the Western Conference’s second-place team. Then on Tuesday, a second-quarter breakdown combined with an inability to stop Lakers All-Stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James led to a 120-107 setback.
Davis finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks, and James compiled 22 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
A key point in the game came when the Lakers closed out the final 5:04 of the half on a 22-4 run to lead 65-54 at intermission. The Sixers missed six of their seven shots during that stretch and committed four of their seven first-half turnovers.
Yet, they kept fighting without Simmons (pinched nerve, lower back), Embiid (left shoulder sprain), and Richardson (concussion, bruised nose).
“Our guys are really trying to compete,” forward Al Horford said. “We’re really trying to do things the right way. [The Lakers and Clippers] are really good teams and I hope we can continue to get better.”
The Sixers (37-25) take a nine-game road losing streak into Thursday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. They are 9-23 away from home. The road trip ends with Saturday’s game at Golden State.
Yet, their past two road losses had a different feel than other ones in which the Sixers were a poor-shooting team with no answers.
They made 16 of 40 three-pointers (40%) against the Lakers two days after tying their season-high with 21 threes in 43 attempts (48.8%) against the Clippers.
“I like the quantity," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of the three-point attempts. Forty against the Lakers “is a number, with the injuries that we have, that interests me. I would like to even exceed that, truthfully.”
The coach thinks shooting a high volume of three-pointers while moving the ball is an ingredient for being competitive with Embiid, Simmons, and Richardson sidelined.
In the process, the Sixers are seeing their less-heralded players excel.
Point guard Shake Milton torched the Clippers with a career-high 39 points on Sunday, including 7-for-9 shooting on three-pointers.