Team-focused Nets face Lakers, seek weekend L.A. sweep

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Sharing the ball and reaping the rewards, the Brooklyn Nets are playing their best basketball of the season heading into a road matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

It will be the Nets’ second game in downtown L.A. in consecutive days after they used a fourth-quarter surge Saturday afternoon to pull off a 110-95 victory over the Clippers. Brooklyn is now 4-1 since Kyrie Irving was given a team-imposed suspension.

While Irving’s original suspension was for at least five games for promoting an antisemitic film, then not denouncing the content when given a chance, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said his guard will be out at least one more game on Sunday.

Without Irving on the floor, the Nets appear to be trusting each other on offense, while staying connected on defense. Not one of Brooklyn’s past five opponents has scored more than 96 points.

“We were excited with the way our defense was tracking throughout the whole game,” Kevin Durant said. “Even though we didn’t make shots, I felt like we were generating good shots too, so eventually they’re going to start to fall. We hung our (hats) on making them shoot tough shots over us.”

The Nets held Clippers scoring machine Paul George to 17 points on 5-of-21 shooting. And as Durant suspected, the offense finally arrived. The Nets reeled off a 20-2 run in the fourth quarter to take control, while Seth Curry scored 14 of his 22 points in the period. Durant had 27 in the game.

“We’re playing as a team, communicating on both ends of the floor, our defense has been really good,” said Curry, who still is on the mend after left ankle surgery in May and played a season-high 28 minutes. “Everyone’s been helping each other, I don’t feel like I’m on an island out there.”

Curry didn’t have an answer when asked if he would play in Sunday’s back-to-back.

The Lakers are expected to be without LeBron James after he left Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers, although he was upgraded to doubtful because of a left adductor strain. Without James on Friday, the Lakers fell 120-114 to the Sacramento Kings.

The Lakers are on a five-game losing streak after starting the season with five consecutive defeats. Los Angeles has won just twice and only the Houston Rockets at 2-11 have a worse record.

“We know there is a sense of urgency there where we have to get on the right side of these games,” first-year Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. “… I got to step the hell up. That’s what I plan to do. Me and my staff, everybody in that building, we got to pull together and try to make this thing work.”

Anthony Davis scored 24 points with 14 rebounds against the Kings. Russell Westbrook continued to come off the bench and had 21 points, although a bevy of miscues that included a technical foul, a turnover and an intentional foul helped the Kings nearly erase all of a double-digit deficit in the second quarter.

Lonnie Walker IV returned for the Lakers after missing the previous two games with an illness and scored 19 points.

“(We) have our moments where our IQ is high and our moments when our IQ was very low — from everyone,” Davis said. according to the Los Angeles Times.

–Field Level Media

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