Looking at the two teams pre-game, I assumed the Sixers were a lock to win this one. The Lakers were riding the struggle bus hard, as they were left with just nine semi-healthy players on the roster. Los Angeles' injury report made it look like they had been hit with the plague.
But come 9:30 P.M., it was the Lakers who emerged from Philadelphia with a 112-98 win, with much surprise but certainly to no one's dismay.
The Sixers came out shooting hot early, taking advantage of a clearly uncomfortable Lakers squad. Philadelphia found themselves up 35-26 at the end of the first, but the second quarter was all Steve Blake. Blake knocked down three treys like he was Peja Stojakovic in his prime, and finished the night 4-5 from beyond the arc. With the help of Ryan Kelly and Robert Sacre, Los Angeles closed the gap to just three points.
Somewhere between halftime and the third quarter Steve Nash found the fountain of youth. Coming into the game shooting just 29% from the floor, Nash began knocking down mid-range jumpers with consistency. And while his stroke has been off this season, he's had no issue facilitating the offense. The oldest active player in the NBA shelled out dime after dime, most notably a behind the back pass to Wesley Johnson for a corner three to put the Lakers up by one. He finished the game with 19 points. And where Nash left off, Kendall Marshall picked right back up. He finished the night with seven points on 3-6 shooting to go with ten assists, and Mike Levin's heart. Sorry, Mike.
Philadelphia managed to hang on to the lead heading into the fourth, as Tony Wroten casually dropped in a 62-footer at the end of the quarter, his second long distance buzzer beater in a row.
The fourth quarter was dominated by the Lakers bigs on both ends of the floor. Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Chris Kaman made the evening a living hell for Young and Hawes down low. The trio combined for five blocks, and did a good job of bodying up two Sixers not necessarily known for physical play. Kaman finished the evening with 17 points, and Hill had 14 on his own.
For Philadelphia, Friday provided the perfect trap game for them, and a nice teaching lesson for Brett Brown: never underestimate anyone in the NBA. They're back in action on Sunday as they take on the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center.
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