NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 1st (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia 76ers (14-17) at Los Angeles Lakers (15-15), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers haven't been over .500 in more than a month. With the road-weary Philadelphia 76ers in town Tuesday night, the Lakers have a good chance at regaining a winning record.
The Lakers were 6-5 back on Nov. 20 with a win over the Brooklyn Nets and stumbled from there, losing nine of the next 12 games. They have cleaned up their act since with six wins in the past seven games, including a 104-87 victory versus the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night.
Kobe Bryant had scored 30-plus points in 10 straight games and posted 27 versus the Blazers on 9-of-18 shooting. Bryant added five rebounds and four assists for the Lakers, who have won three in a row at home and are 10-6 at Staples Center this season. Bryant leads the NBA with 30.1 ppg and averaged 34.4 ppg during his recent 30-point surge.
Dwight Howard posted a double-double versus Portland with 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who led by as many as 27 points and forced Portland to shoot 41.4 percent for the game.
The Lakers, who had a 52-44 rebounding edge, outscored Portland in the paint by a 58-38 margin. They also had a 26-13 advantage in second-chance points.
"I think our focus was much better on the defensive end," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I'm really happy with the way we defended as a team."
Pau Gasol had 15 points and Steve Nash scored six with 10 assists. The Lakers are 3-1 since Nash returned from a leg injury and he is 38 assists shy of 10,000 for his career.
Los Angeles will play visitor Friday against the rival Clippers.
Philadelphia will resume its season-high eight-game road trip Tuesday and is just 1-3 so far on the trek. The 76ers were last in action on Saturday in an 89-85 loss at Portland as Jrue Holiday scored a game-high 29 points and handed out nine assists. Holiday, though, had seven turnovers.
Thaddeus Young scored 17 points and both Nick Young and Spencer Hawes each scored 10 for the Sixers, who have lost eight of 10 games and are just 1-8 in their previous nine road games. The Sixers are only 5-10 as the visitor.
"One of these nights we have to have a game where we're the team that jumps out early and survives a couple runs," Hawes said. "It takes a lot more energy to be on the bottom side of a run trying to come back than it does just to kind of withhold it."
The Sixers are hitting the meat of the road trip and still have to visit Phoenix, Oklahoma City and San Antonio. They will need Thaddeus Young to keep up his scoring touch and he is averaging 17.0 ppg in his last six. Young has scored 10 or more points in each of the last 21 games -- the longest streak since former Sixer Andre Iguodala did it in 24 games in row back in 2009.
Evan Turner hasn't done much lately to help his team, failing to reach the double-digit scoring mark in three of the past six games. He had turned the trick in 17 consecutive games from Nov. 16-Dec. 19. Despite his many turnovers, Holiday has handed out at least nine assists in four straight games.
Philadelphia hosted the Lakers on Dec. 16 and dropped a 111-98 decision. Bryant scored 34 points and Nick Young countered with 30 for the 76ers, who have lost 10 of the last 13 games in this series. The Sixers are 2-10 in their previous 12 at the Lakers.
01/01 10:33:42 ET