PHILADELPHIA — On his 40th birthday, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash showed he still has something left in the tank.
He was beginning to wonder himself.
Playing just his eighth game of the season and his second since Nov. 10, the veteran scored a season-high 19 points on Friday night to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to 112-98 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
“After 18 years, it’s very sweet because I thought it was gone,” said Nash, who has been bothered by back and hamstring issues. “I had a blast, just being a part of the team and contributing.”
Center Chris Kaman and guard-forward Wesley Johnson added 17 points for Los Angeles (18-32), which won its second straight game. Before beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, they had dropped seven in a row.
Forward Ryan Kelly scored 15 points and guard Steve Blake and forward Jordan Hill had 14 each for the Lakers.
Nash, the NBA’s oldest player and the fourth guard in league history to play at 40, made 8 of 15 shots from the floor and had five assists. It was his first time scoring 19 or more since he had 21 against Golden State on March 25, 2013. It was also the greatest output by a 40-year-old since Karl Malone had 20 for the Lakers against Houston on April 1, 2004.
“I marvel at what he does to get himself ready to play,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who also coached Nash in Phoenix. “He has great passion and love for it, and it’s nice to be around. … He’s not the same speed he was at 30 years old, but he knows how to play.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown had hoped his young, long perimeter defenders could bother Nash, but that was not the case.
“I see just a poised, prideful point guard,” Brown said, “that takes immaculate care of his body and understands game tempo and is comfortable with somebody on his hip. He understands (defensive) rotations. I really didn’t see much of a let-up physically, as I thought I was going to.”
The Lakers were without six other players because of injury, notably All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, who has been out since Dec. 17 with a fractured left knee.
Reserve guard Tony Wroten scored 16 points to pace the Sixers (15-36), who have lost five straight. They have also dropped their last six at home. Center Spencer Hawes had 15 points and 11 rebounds and guard-forward Evan Turner scored 15.
The Lakers, who took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by backup guard Kendall Marshall with 3:52 left in the third quarter, put the game away by outscoring the Sixers 25-13 in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles’ reserve big men, Kaman and Hill, did most of the damage for the Lakers in the quarter, scoring eight points apiece.
The Sixers made 4 of 19 shots from the field in the quarter and committed five of their 22 turnovers.
The Sixers went on a 10-2 run early in the game — a flurry featuring 3-pointers by guard-forward James Anderson and forward Thaddeus Young — to open a 19-11 lead. By quarter’s end, they stretched their advantage to 35-26.
Philadelphia was still leading by nine at 64-55 with a minute left in the half before Blake made two 3-pointers to cut the gap to 64-61 at the end of the quarter.
Kelly led Los Angeles with 11 points at the half. Nash and Johnson had 10 each.
Hawes scored 11 in the opening half for Philadelphia. Center-forward Lavoy Allen chipped in 10 off the bench.
Blake added another 3-pointer as the Lakers reeled off seven of the first 10 points in the third quarter to go ahead 68-67, their first lead since it was 2-0.
Later in the quarter, Marshall scored five points and Nash four in a 11-3 spree, pushing the Los Angeles advantage to 83-76.
With the Lakers leading 87-82 in the closing seconds of the quarter, Wroten rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Lakers forward Shawne Williams and from his own foul line heaved in a 3-pointer, a 62-footer that cut the gap to 87-85.
It was the second straight game in which Wroten made a shot from beyond midcourt. He had also done so at the end of the third quarter in Wednesday’s loss to Boston.
NOTES: The Sixers made a season-high 15 3-pointers. … Lakers guard Kendall Marshall contributed 10 assists in just under 20 minutes off the bench. … Besides G Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were without G Jordan Farmar (calf strain), G Jodie Meeks (sprained right ankle), G Nick Young (left knee fracture/bone bruise), F Pau Gasol (strained right groin) and G-F Xavier Henry (right knee bone bruise). … Earlier in the day, Los Angeles called up F Shawne Williams from the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the Development League. … Sixers coach Brett Brown said Lakers G Steve Nash is “one of (his) personal all-time favorites” and added that when he talked to rookie G Michael Carter-Williams about the veteran, he told him the following: “I don’t care if he’s 60; he’s Steve Nash.” Brown also said that when he was an assistant in San Antonio, “We sort of likened him to (Wayne) Gretzky, where he would get behind the goal and Steve would probe the baseline, just baiting people to get sucked in and then he would pick you apart with his 3-point shooters.” … Retired 76ers C Darryl Dawkins, known as “Chocolate Thunder” in his playing days, attended the game.
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