The Los Angeles Lakers can salvage a split of a four-game road trip Sunday night with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Lakers needed a win on Friday at Washington to have any chance at a .500 excursion. They fell to the Cavaliers on Tuesday and the Knicks on Thursday, but a 102-96 victory over the Wizards stopped the bleeding a bit.
Los Angeles has dropped six of its last eight as the search for an identity under new head coach Mike D'Antoni continues. Pau Gasol will be out again with knee tendinitis and Steve Nash may return to practice next week as he recovers from a leg injury suffered in the first game of the season.
The win against the team with the worst record was welcomed. Kobe Bryant went for 30 points on Friday and became the third player in NBA history over the age of 34 to have five straight games over 30 points, joining Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Bryant games in Philadelphia are always something else. He attended Lower Merion High School in a Philly suburb and has averaged 22.8 ppg in 29 games against his hometown team.
"It's always special. I've always enjoyed it. It's always been fun," Bryant said of playing in Philly. "Now, it becomes a little bit more significant. It's coming to an end."
The Lakers thought this would be their first chance to meet former All-Star center Andrew Bynum, but that won't happen. Bynum, who was acquired from Los Angeles in the offseason, hasn't played a game yet for the Sixers with two bad knees.
In addition to Bynum's season-long absence thus far, the Sixers played Friday night without presumptive All-Star Jrue Holiday, who missed the game with a left foot sprain. Holiday is a game-time decision and if he can't go, Nick Young is expected to start in his place.
The Sixers have lost two straight and three of four. They fell to the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, 95-85, but the Sixers competed and it was a one- possession game down the stretch.
Philadelphia didn't defend the 3-point line very well. Indiana shot 57.1 percent from beyond the arc and the eighth 3-pointer the Pacers made was a huge difference maker.
Evan Turner led the Sixers with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Spencer Hawes chipped in 18 off the bench and Thaddeus Young contributed 12 points.
"We played our butts off and tried to make the right plays," said Turner. "It just wasn't enough. They played real good and we couldn't keep up."
The Lakers are 7-2 in their last nine against the Sixers, although Philly won the only matchup last season. Los Angeles is 4-8 in its last 12 in the City of Brotherly Love.