Lakers-76ers Preview

The Associated Press

After enduring their longest losing streak in seven seasons, the extremely short-handed Los Angeles Lakers found a way to get it done their last time out.

The last-place Philadelphia 76ers can't seem to get on track.

After winning with help from an obscure rule that allowed it to keep a fouled-out player on the floor, Los Angeles tries to make it two in a row when it visits Philadelphia on Friday night.

The Lakers (17-32) suffered seven consecutive defeats before pulling out a 119-108 victory at Cleveland on Wednesday. Los Angeles entered with eight available players, lost two more to injury and had two more foul out.

The Lakers were permitted to keep center Robert Sacre, who was called for his sixth foul with 3:32 remaining, in the game because NBA rules require teams to have five players on the floor at all times. As a result, the league rulebook allows for a team to employ such a scenario.

"It was interesting," said center Chris Kaman, who had 13 points in 14 minutes before fouling out. "I don't think you'll ever see anything like that again."

Rookie Ryan Kelly had a season-high 26 points and Wesley Johnson scored 20. Point guard Steve Blake added 11 to go along with 15 assists and a career high-tying 10 rebounds in his second game back since missing nearly two months with an elbow injury.

"When Steve Blake comes back, the whole atmosphere changes," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Last year, that was the guy that came back that got us on our run last year. He comes back now, and makes the two daggers at the end of the game.

"He makes a big difference. He plays hard, with grit, determination and he doesn't back down on anybody."

It's uncertain who will start at the point with Steve Nash expected back after sitting out against the Cavaliers. Nash, who's only played in seven games this season due to injury, turns 40 on Friday.

The Lakers should also have Jordan Farmar (leg cramps) available, but former 76er Nick Young is uncertain to play after exiting with a knee injury Wednesday.

Aside from Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles is also dealing with injuries to Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry.

"They are playing with the right spirit," D'Antoni said. "Again, it's getting guys back and getting guys healthy. We can make a push to where we're playing entertaining basketball. I know where we are and I know the hole we are in. We can finish the year out on a high note and that is what we're going to do."

Despite Wednesday's win, Los Angeles is 4-19 in its last 23 games. The 76ers (15-35) have also had a rough go, dropping 14 of 17.

Philadelphia is looking to avoid a fifth consecutive loss after falling 114-108 to Boston on Wednesday. Seven 76ers scored in double figures, including Thaddeus Young with 20 and Tony Wroten with 18 off the bench. Spencer Hawes added 14 rebounds, but the 76ers shot 44.9 percent and allowed the Celtics to make 48.8 from the field.

"We just weren't able to get over the hump," coach Brett Brown told the team's official website. "Give credit to the Celtics defense, but I think I need to do a better job with some of the things that we need to execute and do better when it's crunch time."

Philadelphia, allowing an NBA-worst 110.0 points a contest, has surrendered an average of 115.0 during its four-game skid.

"We've shown the ability, sometimes, to do it on that end of the floor, other times we've shown a big disinterest," Hawes said. "It's something that we have to keep emphasizing, and it's either going to set in or it's not."

Philadelphia's six consecutive home losses are its most since a franchise-worst 12-game skid in 1996-97.

The 76ers have taken three of four from the Lakers, including a 111-104 road win Dec. 29 behind a combined 47 points from Young and Evan Turner.

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