Ben Simmons played provider as Danny Green hit eight 3-pointers against his former team and their Philadelphia 76ers saw off a late rally to defeat defending NBA champions LA Lakers 109-101.
In the continued absence of Joel Embiid, Australian star Simmons provided a relatively-meagre nine points but steered the 76ers’ victory with a healthy 12 assists in his 39 minutes on court in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Green was one beneficiary, scoring a game-high 28 points including a game-clinching 3-pointer with 30.4 seconds to play.
The clash between the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers and the Lakers was robbed of plenty of star power with Embiid on the injured list for the visitors and LeBron James and Anthony Davis still out for the Lakers.
Seth Curry scored 19 points and Tobias Harris added 17 for the Sixers (32-13), who have won seven of eight without All-Star Joel Embiid.
Green provided the type of superb shooting performance he rarely achieved during his sole season with the Lakers. The veteran started 68 regular season games and all 21 playoff games for Los Angeles but averaged only 8.0 points as a three-and-D swingman.
“Got a chance to see some of my brothers, compete against them, and there’s nothing better to come out with a win,” Green said.
Green won back-to-back titles with Toronto and Los Angeles and received his championship ring from the Lakers before the game along with Dwight Howard, who then got ejected after the first quarter.
The Lakers traded Green in the offseason to acquire Dennis Schroder, who had 20 points and a season-high 11 assists in Los Angeles’ fourth consecutive loss.
Kyle Kuzma scored 25 points and Montrezl Harrell added 20, but the defending NBA champions remained winless since James sprained his ankle last Sunday and joined fellow All-NBA star Davis on the sidelines.
When asked why he played so well against the team that traded him, Green replied: “Coincidence? Possibly. Probably.”
The Lakers had a few dozen fans in the Staples Center stands for the first time this season after getting permission from the Los Angeles County Health Department to welcome no more than 50 people. The fans mostly watched quietly.
Building toward a title tilt, the 76ers have acquired George Hill from Oklahoma City and Ignas Brazdeikis from New York in a three-team trade, parting with Tony Bradley, Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Poirier.
Hill is averaging 11.8 points per game for the Thunder with 38.6% 3-point shooting.
“I think he’s going to be great for us,” said Green, Hill’s former teammate in San Antonio