The Lakers had cut the Sixers' lead, once as large as 22 points, down to five Saturday night with 5:19 remaining. The Sixers were teetering, and Al Horford had something to say.
"Coach called a timeout, we went to the bench and I just told the group to stay together," Horford recalled. "They made a run, and we needed to respond. To that point I felt like we were doing a good job with the game, keeping them at a certain distance. We made some plays there to give us some breathing room and just closed them out."
Horford made a handful of those plays himself. He scored seven straight points, nailing a contested mid-range jumper, a three and a baseline fadeaway.
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His performance was one of many that earned a shoutout from Brett Brown in the Sixers' postgame bell ringing ceremony after a 108-91 victory (see observations).
You've gotta love Horford's reaction. The 33-year-old just stares ahead and takes a sip of his beverage, seemingly unaffected by the whole scene.
For his part, though, Horford thought this was an especially meaningful win for the Sixers against an opponent who entered with a 36-9 record, best in the Western Conference.
"I said it yesterday, I thought it was a big game coming into it," he said. "And I think it's a big win. It's a really big win. Obviously we're missing some starters, and I just think the way Ben [Simmons] and Tobias [Harris] came out and established it for us and set the tone for our group, I think it went a long way.
"This a huge win. I know people get caught up, it's January, it's whatever - it's a huge win. And that's a really good team over there. I'm really proud of our group."
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