- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- Mike D'Antoni was incredulous before the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday when asked why Kendall Marshall, acquired just more than a week ago, wasn't getting more playing time at backup point guard.
"What do you think?" D'Antoni shot back to the reporter. "He's not as good as X [Xavier Henry]."
"I understand that," replied the reporter.
"Well, then why'd you ask the question?" D'Antoni said in return.
Marshall had played only 10 minutes total since the Lakers plucked him out of the D-League, appearing in two of L.A.'s four games since he joined the team. But Jordan Farmar returned from his left hamstring tear in the two games Marshall didn't play, shoring up L.A.'s point guard situation with Farmar as the starter and Henry as the backup.
"He's got to be better than the point guard we have out there, and X right now is doing a pretty good job," D'Antoni said. "And the other thing he has going against him, I don't know him. I've seen him play maybe two minutes. I don't think we're at the point where, 'Oh, let's experiment.' Maybe when we're going good, but we're not going to lose games because I'm over here experimenting. I haven't had time to see him and he's trying to find his way in the league. He hasn't established that yet. But we hope that maybe in garbage time in our favor, or something would happen that we'd get a look at him, but I just can't just grasp straws."
Something did happen, of course. Henry went out with a strained right knee in the first quarter and did not return.
Suddenly, Marshall went from being an experiment to a necessity and the Lakers' season went from being star-crossed to darn-near depressing.
Marshall (eight points, three assists, two rebounds, two turnovers) wasn't the problem or the solution Sunday. He had the best game of his young Lakers career and he helped fuel L.A.'s fourth-quarter run, but he wasn't on the floor for the final minutes.
In those final minutes, L.A. lost the game, just as it had when it couldn't close against Miami and Utah in its last two defeats.
How it happened: L.A. made four of its first five shots to jump out to a 12-2 lead to start things off but then went just 2-for-17 as a team the rest of the quarter to hold a 22-20 lead after one. The score was tied at 52-52 at the half before Philadelphia jumped ahead to a 13-point lead at one point in the third that L.A. whittled down to 10 early on in the fourth before embarking on a 15-4 lead to take back a 95-94 lead with just more than seven minutes left.
Philly had a three-point lead in the final minute and Farmar set up Shawne Williams with a wide-open look from the top of the key, but Williams missed. The Sixers padded their cushion and L.A. had yet another loss on its hands.
What it means: This one stings. The Lakers are now on a season-high five-game losing streak to fall to 13-18 and have punted away two winnable games in a row.
Hits: Nick Young scored 26 points, marking his third straight game with 20-plus points and the fifth time in the Lakers' last six games he has reached the level, but he shot just 6-for-21 in doing so.
Jordan Hill had 18 points and 13 rebounds after filling in at center in the starting lineup.
Williams finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Ryan Kelly had a fine game off the bench with seven points and six rebounds.
L.A. shot 30-for-34 (88.2 percent) on free throws.
Misses: The Lakers had 22 turnovers leading to 27 points for Philly.
Stat of the game: Eight. That is the number of wins each of L.A.'s past two opponents came into the game against the Lakers with and both Utah (9-23) and Philadelphia (9-21) walked away boosting that number.