On Steve Nash’s 40th birthday, the Los Angeles Lakers are in Philadelphia for the final game of a three-game road trip. This week, like every other week this season, has been a roller-coaster ride filled with injuries. As the ride momentarily stops in the City of Brotherly Love, only a handful of Lakers are fit enough to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nash will start. However, Steve Blake, who started the last two games, suffered a bruised thigh en route to his triple double against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Blake, who popped an ear-drum earlier in the week, will decide whether he can play at game time.
Along with Blake and Nash, Jordan Farmar also returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines this week. After sitting on the bench in Tuesday’s loss in Minnesota, Farmar overextended himself in Cleveland. As such, he has been ruled out of Friday’s game against the 76ers.
In their last game, the Lakers also lost Nick Young to a non-displaced fracture in his patella and bone bruise. He is expected to miss at least two weeks. Fellow shooting guard Jodie Meeks sprained his ankle against Minnesota and is also out of Friday’s contest.
Not everything with the Lakers is injury doom and gloom. Jordan Hill, who took a hard hit in the head on Tuesday, is expected to play on Friday after missing Wednesday’s game as a precaution. Also, the Lakers re-signed Shawne Williams to a 10-day contract, so Williams should immediately return as an impact player.
With the Lakers’ injuries updated, time to take a look at Friday’s opponent: the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philly is not a good team. On the season, they have only 15 wins in 50 games. Even these Lakers are better than that, so these two teams are in competition for the NBA’s draft lottery. The 76ers are on a four-game losing streak entering Friday night’s contest, and the home team has lost 14 of its last 17 games.
However, these two teams met in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, and the Lakers allowed five players to hit double figures in points, led by Thaddeus Young’s 25 points. The Lakers lost that game.
Young is in his seventh year with the Sixers, and he is averaging a career-high in points, 17.5 points per game. Fractionally ahead of Young, Evan Turner leads Philadelphia with 17.8 points per game. In his fourth year with the 76ers, Turner is also hitting career-highs for the 76ers.
With the Lakers short-handed, keeping Turner and Young quiet will be keys to winning on Friday. For the folks back in LA, this one is another early tip: 4 pm PST.