Los Angeles Lakers

Watch Avery Bradley take the ball right out of Al Horford's hands

Watch Avery Bradley take the ball right out of Al Horford's hands

The Philadelphia 76ers were without their two biggest stars on Tuesday night when they took on the formidable Lakers out in Los Angeles.

That meant Al Horford could step up and take the full brunt of Sixers fans' ire.

Horford has been a pretty consistent punching bag all season in Philly, failing to live up to the lofty expectations Elton Brand and his big free-agent contract put on him this past summer.

There was a particular stretch to end the first half on Tuesday night that was simply brutal to watch (our video editors clipped a video of it for you to see above):

-Horford got torched by Anthony Davis on a backdoor alley-oop

-Horford missed shot led to a Davis layup on the other end

-No help from Horford when Davis blew by Neto

-Horford had the ball taken right out of his hands by Avery Bradley.

That last one had Philly fans everywhere throwing up their hands in disgust. How does a guy as big as Horford allow that to happen?

There may also have been another Davis fastbreak dunk in there somewhere. Was hard to keep track.

It's been a long season for Big Al and the Sixers. In Horford's defense, our reporter Paul Hudrick wrote that Horford was battling some knee issues:

Al Horford was mostly solid early in this one, playing Davis tough, but several of the issues that have plagued him arose again as the game went on.

He struggled to shoot from the outside (2 of 8 from the floor), couldn’t finish at the rim and just looked a step slow. At a time when the Sixers have really needed Horford to be the guy they paid for, he has not done so. It’s fair to note that Horford could be seen on the broadcast getting ice and treatment on his left knee on the bench. He’s missed time this season because of soreness in that knee and left hamstring tightness.

More on the 120-107 loss here.

Sixers outmanned, outgunned by Anthony Davis, Lakers in another road loss

Sixers outmanned, outgunned by Anthony Davis, Lakers in another road loss

BOX SCORE

Well, there was no encore performance for Shake Milton.

While the Sixers hung in the game, they just didn’t have the manpower to compete with the powerful Lakers in a 120-107 loss at Staples Center Tuesday night.

A game after Milton dropped 39 points against the Clippers on the very same floor, he was just solid Tuesday with 12 points.

The Sixers were without Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain), Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in lower back) and Josh Richardson (concussion). 

The loss drops the Sixers to 9-23 on the road and 37-25 overall. Their West Coast swing continues Thursday in Sacramento against the Kings (10 p.m./NBCSP).

Here are observations from the loss:

Too much Lakers

LeBron James and Anthony Davis would’ve presented problems even if the Sixers were fully healthy. Without arguably their three best defensive players, they were fully outmanned and outgunned, which is why Brett Brown changed up his defensive looks, throwing a bunch of 2-3 zone at the Lakers. 

While Brown did it out of clear desperation, the results were mixed. It went poorly with James in the game as he just picked the zone apart with his elite court vision (14 assists). The reality is there’s no defensive strategy the Sixers could’ve deployed that would’ve helped. The Lakers just had far too much talent on the floor.

L.A. went on a 34-10 run to end the second quarter and took the game over behind Davis and James. Though the Sixers fought in the second half, that stretch proved to be the difference.

Still need more from Horford and Harris

Al Horford was mostly solid early in this one, playing Davis tough, but several of the issues that have plagued him arose again as the game went on.

He struggled to shoot from the outside (2 of 8 from the floor), couldn’t finish at the rim and just looked a step slow. At a time when the Sixers have really needed Horford to be the guy they paid for, he has not done so. It’s fair to note that Horford could be seen on the broadcast getting ice and treatment on his left knee on the bench. He’s missed time this season because of soreness in that knee and left hamstring tightness.

Davis cooked Horford and the Sixers to the tune of 37 points.

Tobias Harris showed the aggressiveness the Sixers needed from him early. Unfortunately, he got called for his third foul â€” a ticky-tack one on Dwight Howard — late in the second. The Lakers then proceeded to go on an 18-4 run to close the quarter and take an 11-point lead into the locker room.

Harris took just eight shots in the second half, including just three in the fourth quarter for the second straight game. With no Embiid, Simmons and Richardson, and Horford continuing to struggle, it’s an awful lot to ask of Harris to carry this team offensively. At home against the Knicks is one thing. On the road against a team like the Lakers proved to be too much.

Looking for the positives

If there’s going to be a general positive from this West Coast swing that the Sixers have now started 0-2, it’s that we’ve seen a couple players show they can contribute.

While it didn’t seem likely Milton would repeat his 39-point performance, the second-year guard has proven he can be a useful piece for the Sixers down the stretch.

On Tuesday, Glenn Robinson III finally looked like the player the Sixers traded for. He was strong on both ends in this one and finally hit his first three as a Sixer â€” and went 3 of 5 in the game â€” after starting 0 for 11 with his new team. His ability to cut should prove to be a strong asset when Simmons returns to the lineup. He tied a career high with 25 points.

Though the stat sheet won’t show it, Matisse Thybulle also had a strong night in a tough environment. He was forced on to James multiple times and did quite well. He was active, recording three offensive rebounds. While his outside shooting struggles continued, he showed how he can still make an impact.

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What does Shake Milton have in store for an encore in Sixers' game vs. Lakers?

What does Shake Milton have in store for an encore in Sixers' game vs. Lakers?

Updated: 8:28 p.m.

After giving the Clippers all they could handle Sunday, Shake Milton and the Sixers (37-24) stay in L.A. and face another formidable opponent in the Lakers (46-13).

The Sixers will be woefully shorthanded. Already without Joel Embiid (left shoulder sprain) and Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in lower back), Josh Richardson will also miss Tuesday’s game. Richardson collided with teammate Alec Burks and suffered a nose contusion Sunday. After the game, it was revealed that Richardson was also diagnosed with a concussion.

Meanwhile, the Lakers come in relatively healthy. Anthony Davis (right knee soreness) will play while guard Alex Caruso (right hamstring soreness) is out.

Here are three storylines to watch:

Hollywood Shake’s encore?

Milton took a national audience by storm with a 39-point performance at Staples Center. He also tied an NBA record, making 13 consecutive threes over the course of three games. The starting point guard with Simmons out, Milton is giving Brett Brown plenty to think about when the team is at full strength.

But what can he do for an encore?

There’s no doubt the Lakers will be much more wary of Milton than the Clippers were. They have multiple veteran guards that will likely be ready to take on the challenge defensively.

To Milton’s credit, it wasn’t just a one-off performance. In the two games prior, Milton had put up 20 and 19 points, respectively. Since taking over for Simmons, Milton has played with poise and shown his ability offensively. 

It’ll be interesting to see what he does as one of the focal points of a scouting report.

Need more from big money men

Tobias Harris was solid Sunday, scoring 25 points and helping the team get off to a fast start. Outside of some issues with Montrezl Harrell defensively, Al Horford was mostly decent.

Still, the Sixers need more. Way more.

With Embiid, Simmons and Richardson out, Harris and Horford need to step up, especially on the offensive end. 

Harris shot 11 of 21, an efficient shooting line, but took just three shots in the fourth quarter when the game was still very much in reach. He’s proven to be a capable scorer, but with the Sixers so beat up, Harris needs to take games over — especially down the stretch.

We’ve seen the offense fit Horford’s skill set more with Embiid and Simmons out. It’s led to Horford’s assist numbers rising, but his finishing ability and outside shooting are still cause for concern. You could attribute Horford’s early-season struggles to fit, but under these circumstances, there’s no excuse.

Trap game for L.A.?

If you’re looking for a reason for hope in this one, the Lakers will host the NBA-best Bucks in their next game on Friday. That game is followed by a nationally televised matchup Sunday against the Clippers, who’ve already beaten the Lakers twice this season. Perhaps they could overlook the hobbled Sixers Tuesday.

This past Sunday, the Sixers actually gave the Clippers a run for their money. It’s a long season and anything can happen on a given night.

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