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Basketball / Sports

Lakers, Nash drop Sixers, 112-98

PHILADELPHIA--Nick Young has a broken knee, and probably should not be jumping around too much. But with 2:31 left in the second quarter Friday in Philadelphia, the Lakers injured leading scorer simply couldn't help it.

He leapt off the bench and cheered wildly. It was a special kind of celebration as the Lakers beat the 76ers, 112-98.

Steve Nash, on his 40th birthday, had just taken one dribble to his left, and quickly reversed course with one dribble behind his back to the right. With 76ers guard Evan Turner completely lost, Nash glided in for a finger-roll layup.

If age is just a number, here are a few more: 19 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, a performance against the Sixers that offered a reminder of the player Nash has been and encouragement of what he can still be.

He became just the third point guard to play after 40, joining John Stockton and Bob Cousy. Before Friday, no 40-year-old had scored so many points in a game since Karl Malone scored 20 with the Lakers in 2004.

"Not many guys can get past 40 and do this," Coach Mike D'Antoni said.

It was a satisfying way to spend a birthday after being out for the better part of 10 months because of nerve issues stemming from a broken leg. It meant the intense training sessions and carefully studying movement had paid off.

"I love the game, and when you realize its almost gone, you love it more," said Nash, who returned to the floor Tuesday in Minnesota. "You want to make the most of what you have left, because it's going to be hopefully 50 years of not playing basketball."

Nash, a two-time MVP with the Phoenix Suns, where he played for D'Antoni, never planned on playing this long.

"I just wanted to play and see where it took me," he said. "It just sort of happens. You roll out of bed today and you're playing at 40. It's not like I designed it that way."

Friday's win was the Lakers second straight as they continue to try to get out of the Western Conference cellar. They have won only five games since losing Kobe Bryant to an injury in mid-December and remain 13 games under .500.

Despite losing Young and guard Jodie Meeks to injuries on this trip -- bringing the number of injured to five -- the Lakers have improved defensively and reduced their turnovers. Friday marked the first time they held an opponent under 100 points in the last 16 games.

Two nights after recording a triple-double, Steve Blake was again highly productive, finishing with 15 points and 8 assists, while Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman each contributed 17 points.

"The Lakers trailed, 64-61, at halftime, but got hot in the second half and outscored the Sixers, 25-23, in the fourth quarter.

Nash was just happy to be part of it again.

"Knowing the transition that's nearby," Nash said, "I just want to be able to enjoy it and contribute and feel that one more time. For however long it is."

Two weeks for Young

Young will miss at least two weeks with a fractured patella in his left knee. Two days after suffering the injury in Cleveland he was still complaining about the foul on which the injury occurred. He said he wanted Cavaliers forward C.J. Miles to "feel my pain" and said jokingly "we got to throw some eggs or something at his house."

Miles fouled Young on a fastbreak Wednesday, grabbing him and sending the pair into the basket's standard. The Lakers initially listed Young with a "twisted knee" but Thursday an MRI revealed the break as well as a bone bruise.

"I didn't think I would be out for two weeks," he said after Friday's shootaround. "It's tough. I wanted to be out here tonight. We're going to take my time and see what happens."

Back in the game

The Lakers waived Shawne Williams on Jan. 7, but the rangy forward was never far away. He stuck around L.A. and played with the Development League's D-Fenders, which are owned by the Lakers and practice and play games at the team's El Segundo training facility.

"It was like a tease to me, like you're so close, could grab it," Williams said. "But you're not there. It's just a reality check."

Williams signed a 10-day contract to return to the Lakers on Thursday and made his debut against the Sixers. He finished with 4 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes.

In four games with the D-Fenders, Williams averaged 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 51.5 percent on 3-pointers. He struggled in his earlier stint with the Lakers -- shooting just 32.7 percent from 3 -- and was cut so the Lakers could save money.

The Lakers brought him back for depth after finding themselves with only four eligible players in the fourth quarter in Cleveland.

When D'Antoni first told Williams, a longtime favorite player, that he had been waived in January, Williams said the coached appeared to be near tears.

"Looking at him I wanted to cry," Williams said. "But I knew it was business, I knew it's bigger than me and it's a lot of stuff that goes into this organization."

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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