Friday, February 7, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 112, 76ers 98
By Dave McMenamin
PHILADELPHIA -- With the Los Angeles Lakers playing in the City of Brotherly Love on the night Steve Nash turned 40, the story of the game had much more of a Benjamin Button feel than Benjamin Franklin.
Playing in only his second game since missing nearly three months because of nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings, Nash showed glimpses of the player he once was when he captured back-to-back MVP awards with the Phoenix Suns, helping the Lakers to a 112-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
There was Nash making magic happen with his handle, slashing to the hoop for an ooh-and-aah-inspiring finger roll in the second quarter. And there was him finding Wesley Johnson with a behind-the-back feed in the third quarter to set up a go-ahead 3-pointer.
There was the 40-year-old looking like a 20-year-old in the fourth quarter, springing up off the bench to congratulate his teammates as they were making a run to grab hold of the game.
There was Nash wrapping a bow around L.A.'s much-needed win with an 18-foot, step-back, teardrop jumper with 2:38 to go to give him 17 points -- his highest scoring total in eight games this season. He would finish with 19, five assists and four rebounds.
There was Nash being subbed out in the final minute and receiving adulation from each and every one of his teammates and coaches as he made his way down the sideline, a happy birthday gift indeed.
How it happened: In the early going it looked as if the Lakers wouldn't be able to build on their win in Cleveland, as the 76ers stormed ahead by nine after the first quarter. L.A. chipped away, outscoring Philly by six in the second quarter and five in the third before using a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to take control.
What it means: Despite the injury bug biting L.A. once again with Nick Young suffering a non-displaced knee fracture in Cleveland, it was a successful trip for the Lakers as they won two of three and received alternating strong performances from Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, all of whom made it back on the court after long absences.
Hits: Three starters other than Nash reached double digits in scoring, with Blake finishing with 14 points and eight assists; Johnson finishing with 17 points; and Ryan Kelly following up his career-high 26 points against Cleveland with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Kendall Marshall had seven points and 10 assists in 20 minutes off the bench. He wasn't the only reserve to play well as Chris Kaman (17 points, eight rebounds) and Jordan Hill (14 points, six rebounds) also gave L.A. some depth.
Misses: Farmar did not play as a precautionary measure because of hamstring tightness.
Stat of the game: 13. That's the stingy amount of points L.A.'s defense held Philadelphia to in the fourth quarter.
Up next: The Lakers return to L.A. for practice Saturday before playing three home games in five days against Chicago, Utah and Oklahoma City before the All-Star break.