Celebrating his 40th birthday, Steve Nash enjoyed facing off against the worst defense in the NBA, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 112-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, making everyone forget for just one night about how bad things really are.
The Lakers pull off another win against a weak Eastern conference team but considering the guys that aren’t playing, with Nick Young out for two weeks with his knee injury, it’s quite remarkable the Lakers look this good, which happens to be thanks to Steve Blake and Nash, making the most of the wide open game and no-defense approach both teams believe in, or are simply forced to settle with.
I thought I could play well, I could contribute. At this point, I don’t take anything for granted. It’s a grind for me to get ready to play every day. I’m just thrilled I can move out there without restriction and help my team.
This was vintage Nash, although a bit slower and not as aggressive. He scored 19 points and added 5 assists, but it wasn’t just the numbers. Nash forced, in a good way, his team to play in a certain way and style when he’s at his best, making his unselfishness and vision almost an infectious thing. The Lakers had 34 assists (Kendall Marshall with 10, Steve Blake with 8) and shot 50.6% from the field, getting comfortable looks on almost every time they made the right passes and movement.
It feels great to get two wins in a row. This was satisfying because it was a total team effort. Steve Nash was amazing. He’s incredible to do what he does at age 40. He’s a true professional and we’re lucky to have him. You’re around him and you marvel at what he does. The way he works every day, you watch his speed and he’s about the same speed he was at 30 years old. He’s not real blinding, but he knows how to play. He plays a little bit, he’ll get his legs and he’ll start knocking more shots down.
The Sixers, falling to 15-36 this season, looked like a mess on both ends of the floor. They turned the ball over 22 times and aside from Tony Wroten hitting a 3/4 court shot for the second time this week, there really wasn’t anything noteworthy in their performance from any of their players.
The Lakers are now about feeling good, there’s nothing else to play for Maybe a few more wins and Kobe Bryant will bother himself to get up from his courtside seat and join the fray, unless the Lakers aren’t actually keeping him for a rainy day and his injury is denying him a quicker return (he should have been back by January if you remember correctly).
Most of this team is hitting free agency this offseason, so in order to prove to the Lakers and the rest of the NBA that they’re worth a nice contract when they’re at the signing table, you can expect that we won’t see the Lakers tanking or giving up on games. There’s too much pride in this group, even if it is the weakest one this franchise has had in a very long time.