For most people, a 40th birthday can be a deflating day. More wrinkles, creaky bones and trouble getting up in the morning.
Sure, Steve Nash has those problems. But he also had one hell of a 4-0.
The two-time MVP led the way Friday night, helping the Lakers grab their 18th win of the season in Philadelphia, 112-98. The game was just the second in 2014 where the Lakers held an opponent under 100 points, a landmark that the team hasn't hit since they played the Utah Jazz all the way in the beginning of January. This gives LA a relatively gargantuan winning streak at a whole 2 victories, all the more impressive considering they've done it on the road with such a depleted roster.
The Lakers only had nine available players tonight, each of which logged at least 13 minutes of court time. The aforementioned Nash was at the front of a LA attack that shot over 50% for the night, going 8 for 15 for 19 points along with 4 boards and 5 assists. At times, he looked like the guy the Lakers traded multiple draft picks for almost a year and a half ago, deftly weaving in and out of traffic in the paint and hitting shots from the perimeter. Nash has been moving decently well considering the severity of his injuries, a stark departure from the rigid shell we saw back in November. Whatever it is he's been doing the past three months seems to be working for the time being, as he clearly was the spark plug that carried the Lakers through to victory. Not to be outdone, the other "elder statesmen" of the group also played well, which includes 17/8 from Chris Kaman and 14/4/8 from Steve Blake (on 4 three-pointers and 0 turnovers).
Though the Lakers did get the win tonight, it's hard to say that they weren't helped by a truly inept Sixers squad. Philly allowed the Lakers to shoot over 50% on the evening and could only muster a 42% clip against one of the very worst defenses in the league. The Show got out-rebounded once again--this time by just 10--but a combination of high turnovers (22) and poor shot selection completely jettisoned the 76ers out of the game. Guard Tony Wroten had a nice performance with 15 points on 9 shots, but overall it was a fairly disastrous game for the Sixers who dropped a putrid 34 points in the second half.
This won't please the pro-tankers, but it seems that with Blake, Nash, Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar (who sat out tonight's game after his return Wednesday in Cleveland), the Lakers will have at least a solid offense going forward. Though defensively I suspect they'll still fail (let's not get crazy--they still gave up 98 points to one of the poorest scoring teams in the NBA), this Lakers team is not giving up on the season.
And as long as he's healthy, the oldest player in the NBA will be in the middle of it. Happy birthday, Steve Nash.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino