The Los Angeles Lakers registered arguably the most impressive victory of the season, beating the Brooklyn Nets 126-101 without a third of the roster on Saturday night.
L.A. outrebounded the rivals 47-42 and allowed them to shoot just 18.5% from behind the 3-point line in a show of force of the team’s fearsome defense, still ranking first in the league. The reigning NBA champions themselves shot 50.5% from the field and an impressive 55.9% from deep – all without the injured LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma, to name a few of the absentees.
Head coach Frank Vogel, unsurprisingly, liked what he saw from his players in the blowout victory over Brooklyn — a sentiment that had been building up in the last couple of weeks. “They’re playing scrappy as hell defensively,” he said. “We got a lot of defensive talent in the rotation.
“The way we played against Sacramento [Kings] and Toronto [Raptors] wanting to hit the other team with offense. The confidence of shooting the ball for the three-point line. The extra-pass mindset. Everybody playing team basketball.
“I did think we had a chance [against the Nets], but it was going to be an uphill battle obviously Kyrie [Irving] not being in there changed the game. Obviously, KD is still getting his legs under him, so there’s some other factors there. But I’m super proud of our group.”
Despite missing their leaders in a clash against one of the main rivals to the title, numerous players stepped up on the grandest of stages.
Andre Drummond put in 20 points and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes on the floor. Talen Horton-Tucker registered a career-high 11 assists in his second start of the season. And in his second game for L.A., Ben McLemore erupted for 17 points sinking five threes, four of which came in the fourth quarter.
Vogel’s list of players who stood out against the Nets included everyone who played more than three minutes on Saturday, emphasizing the win resulted from a collective effort.
“It’s really hard to call out one or two guys. Everybody that played contributed at a super high level. Starting with Dennis [Schroder] beyond attacking their switches and basically scoring on every single one of them. Kieff and Drum just brought that physical presence and shotmaking to fight. KCP didn’t have a great first half offensively, but he was defending his butt off and we knew that his offense was going to come around. He was great during that stretch.
“THT starting. 11 assists, a career-high for him and those guys off the bench they really played their tails off. Ben [McLemore] coming in and making those pick-and-pop threes, getting red hot. Zo McKinnie did everything. Offensive rebounds, low-man helps. Knocking down some threes. Trezz, AC doing what those guys do. Just a complete team effort. It’s tough to single out one guy.”
Drummond learned Lakers are ‘very tough’ in Nets victory
Drummond played a major role in L.A.’s victory over the Nets, particularly in the first half of the clash. His dominance in the restricted area allowed the Lakers to start the game strongly and then control the tempo throughout the night.
But for Drummond, his new teammates’ grit and hustle made for one of the main takeaways of the night. “I learned a lot from today’s game that we’ve got a lot of guys in this locker room that are very tough,” he said. “Despite who is on the other side of the court, they’re going to come and play.
“No matter how many minutes guys play, they’re going to play to the best of their ability. And we had fun doing it. We had a lot of fun tonight playing and getting this win.”
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