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LOS ANGELES – For the second straight game, the Los Angeles Lakers failed to close out a clutch chance to win. And for the second straight game, the Lakers were left lamenting a foul they believed ran out of control that affected the outcome.

After Sunday’s 113-112 loss to Philadelphia, Russell Westbrook claimed Sixers center Joel Embiid grabbed his arm on Los Angeles’ final offensive possession as the Lakers guard attempted a potential game-winner with 3 seconds left.

“I was trying to raise my hand,” Westbrook explained afterward. “I couldn’t raise my hand to shoot because [Embiid] was catching it. But everything is fine.”

Westbrook showed a small group of reporters a screenshot from his cell phone that appeared to show Embiid’s left hand grabbing Westbrook’s right wrist as the 2017 league MVP began his offensive dribble toward the basket.

The official box score credited Sixers forward Georges Niang with a block on Westbrook’s shot attempt with 3.0 seconds left, and Embiid had a defensive rebound with 1.0 seconds left when he lost a loose ball before the buzzer to close things out.

Embiid disagreed with Westbrook’s sequence.

“I don’t think I fouled him,” Embiid said. “Physical game from both sides. You can also foul at the other end, on the scrum. So it goes both ways.”

Then, in typical Embiid fashion, the Philadelphia big man gave his version of events with a little wink.

“They were pushing the ball in transition and he was in front of me and I just waved everyone off. I think I’m a great defender, so I believe I can stop anybody,” Embiid said. “[Westbrook] Unlucky actually because he lost the ball and he had nothing else to do after that.

“Yeah, I’d say it was a fail.”

The loss, the Lakers’ third straight and follows Thursday’s double-overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks, dropped Los Angeles to 19-24 in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference.

“It’s just disappointing,” LeBron James said. “Getting in those positions and not being able to come away with a win… We’re playing good basketball. We just don’t win games.”

Lakers coach Darwin Hamm defended both his decision not to call a timeout with 13.1 seconds left when Westbrook missed Embiid on the defensive end and the fact that Westbrook made the final possession instead of James.

“Down there, you’ve got one of our best playmakers on the rim, one of our best finishers with Embiid in front of the ball,” Hamm said. “I’ll take that script every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

“We’ve just got to finish the play. That’s it. Take a harder and stronger step towards the edge. That’s all. It’s as simple as that. And it just didn’t work out.”

Before the game, among Anthony Davis (right foot stress reaction), Patrick Beverley (not with COVID-19), Austin Reaves (left hamstring strain) and Lonnie Walker IV (left knee tendinitis), Hamm said only two. The automatic picks for his final lineup will be James and Westbrook.

Despite a finish that mirrored other situations in recent games that led to the Lakers’ losses this season against the Portland Trail Blazers and LA Clippers, when the opposing center guarded Westbrook in crunch time and Westbrook couldn’t capitalize, Hamm redoubled his support. point guard

“Just being down by one point and the ball in Russell Westbrook’s hands, that’s fine with me. I don’t know how much I can repeat it. If it was Bron, it would be the same,” Hamm said. . “It’s disappointing that we lost. And it’s disappointing that we couldn’t close out the game. But make no mistake, when the ball was in Russ’ hands and Embiid was in front of him, I trust my player. And that won’t change. We just have to play better.”

The finish spoiled an otherwise great night for Westbrook individually and for the Lakers as a team. Westbrook had 20 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to become the all-time leader in triple-doubles from the bench, the fourth of his career.

James finished with 35 points on 15-for-23 shooting with 10 assists and eight rebounds and moved close to 38,000 career points, becoming the youngest player ever to reach the mark and just the second player to do so after Kareem. Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time scoring leader with 38,387 points.

“The best thing about this league is you get a chance to redeem yourself very quickly,” said James, who was tough in his postgame remarks, still lost. “You still get a chance to be better the next day.

“We got another game tomorrow and we have to be ready to play against a young, fast, energetic Houston Rockets team.


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