By David McIntyre in Los Angeles

For the down and out Lakers, it was a night like all the others:

LeBron James and Anthony Davis were out with injuries.

And the Sixers feasted.

But barely.

Joel Embiid had 30 points and 10 rebounds, James Harden added 24 points and the Sixers hung on for a 126-121 victory.

The win ups the Sixers record to 45-27, tied with the Bucks for second place in the East, 1 1/2-games behind Miami.

Two nights after the Sixers surprisingly beat Eastern Conference-leading Miami despite playing without Embiid and Harden, both stars returned for a tougher-than-expected win over the up-and-down Lakers. Tyrese Maxey scored 21 points for Philadelphia, which has won five of seven overall.

“Guys played well,” Harden said. “Obviously, we wanted to play a lot better, especially defensively. But we’ll take the win, and we’ve just got to continue to get better in these last games before the playoffs.”

James sat out to rest his sore knees, scuttling the potential showdown between the NBA’s leading scorer and Embiid, who was a fraction of a point behind him.

Dwight Howard scored a season-high 24 points and Malik Monk had 23 for Los Angeles in a spirited effort from the supporting cast, but the Lakers lost for the 11th time in 15 games to fall 11 games below .500 again (31-42).

The ninth-place Lakers are still in the expanded playoff picture, but they are now guaranteed to finish with their seventh losing record in nine years. That’s the same number of losing seasons they had in the previous 53 years, starting after they moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960.

“We’re making progress,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’re building habits that are going to win for us in the postseason, and we’re continuing to grow. We’re disappointed we lost, but without Bron, without AD, the group that played showed everyone we’ve still got a whole lot of fight left in us.”

Philadelphia led by 14 in the second half, but the Lakers got within 93-91 heading to the fourth quarter. Los Angeles focused its defense on Embiid, but Maxey and Tobias Harris hit big shots down the stretch as Philly hung on.

Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points, and he got a steal and a layup with 32 seconds left to trim Philadelphia’s lead to four points before the Sixers hit their free throws to ice it. Harris scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points for LA.

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