L.A. stops their five-game losing streak after defeating what was a hot Brooklyn Nets team, 116-103. Not only was it a rare win for the Lakers but it’s actually a wire-to-wire victory. Yes, the Nets actually never led in this contest.
As always, the game started out ugly. In fact, both teams seemed to look lethargic in that first quarter. Even with the Lakers up 9 in the next stanza, both offenses looked messy. I thought that maybe the Lakers would win by being outsucked by the other team.
But the game plan was clear by the Lakers defensively; they were going to send multiple players toward Kevin Durant. It didn’t help that the Nets were without Ben Simmons and Seth Curry. The Nets had a lot of open threes but they didn’t convert on them. While I thought the Lakers were sometimes excessively aggressive on defense, the plan worked. The halftime score was 55-46, Lakers.
I mentioned Anthony Davis being dominant (you see the headline). We also mentioned how Davis seems to disappear in the second half. Well, the Lakers made sure to get the ball to him while the Nets didn’t seem too keen on sending a double towards him. Davis scored 15 points in that all-important third quarter as the Lakers led by 16. Still, this is the third quarter, and the Lakers went back to their bad habits at the end of that period. Kevin Durant finally broke loose and spearheaded a 16-3 run to close the third. It was definitely nervous time entering the fourth.
But Russell Westbrook made sure to keep the Lakers amped with this thunderous (see what I did there?) slam:
The Nets tried to keep it close but the Lakers went on a 13-0 burst halfway through the fourth, which included this amazing kickout by Austin Reaves to Lonnie Walker IV.
That run essentially finished the contest. The Laker bench got some rare garbage minutes and they avoided being tied for the worst record in the league. Maybe the formula for the Lakers is to go on 5-game losing streaks so they can win one. Actually, please don’t do that.
The game plan was simple. Go to Anthony Davis as much as they could. It got easier for Davis when Nic Claxton was ruled out in the third quarter. He finished with a monstrous 37 points (21 in the second half) and 18 rebounds (10 offensive!). This is the Anthony Davis we need to see night in and night out, especially when LeBron James is not playing.
Lonnie Walker IV went for 25 points and shot the ball from behind the arc, going 4 for 5. Austin Reaves started in place of LeBron and hustled for 15 points. Russ came off the bench with 14-6-12. He didn’t shoot well (4 for 15) but his energy is always welcomed for the Lakers after what seemed like a sleepy start.
The Nets had no answer for Davis, especially when Claxton went out of the game. Brooklyn needed some outside perimeter help with Durant getting mobbed but all they could muster was 7 for 27 (.259) from three. They really missed Seth Curry and, for that matter, Kyrie Irving. Durant led Brooklyn with 31 points while Cam Thomas was their second-leading scorer at 15.
The Lakers outrebounded the Nets, 45-41. They also had more assists, 25-22; they finally moved the ball better. They even took care of the ball better; Lakers had 9 turnovers compared to the Nets’ 12. We already saw the Nets’ three-point percentage and the Lakers did better there, too (11/27, .407). Everything seemed to go well for the Lakers here. It was easily their best performance this season.
It’s a bit of a weird schedule quirk but the Lakers have a four-day break. They’re gonna get down on Friday when they face the Detroit Pistons at Crypto.com Arena. But it’s finally good for the Lakers to get a victory; why would they want this weekend to end?