The Los Angeles Lakers were back in action Friday night after nine days of much needed rest for the all star break. They played host to the Brooklyn Nets who are battling for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers were looking to snap a six-game losing skid.
The purple and gold held the second-worst record in the Western Conference coming into the game at 13-40. Ronnie Price was activated after being absent for eight games and Jordan Hill returned from injury. Jordan Clarkson, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black, and Robert Sacre composed the starting lineup once again.
Both teams came out aggressive offensively, with the Lakers working hard on the boards and converting on second chance opportunities. Ryan Kelly got off to a good start looking confident in his perimeter shooting. The two teams traded baskets midway through the quarter, while Jordan Clarkson got going with two straight baskets of his own. The Nets were taking the ball inside the paint and testing the Laker bigs. But on the other end, Black and Sacre continued to pound the boards offensively. Wayne Ellington drove to the basket to give the Lakers a six point lead with five minutes left in the quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic showed his versatility for Brooklyn with good outside shooting and hard drives to the basket. The Laker bench struggled to contain Brook Lopez and the Nets took back the lead. Ed Davis was his usual, effective self in the paint with a couple of big slams. Ronnie Price slashed his way past the Nets defense to tie the game, but Brooklyn got a shot off at the buzzer to end the quarter leading the Lakers 34-32.
Jordan Hill got things started offensively off a wild fast break where Nick Young appeared to have lost the ball in transition, but made a pass to Davis who fed Hill. Staples Center was back in the game after a big Ed Davis dunk was followed by Ronnie Price taking advantage of a loose ball and finishing for huge slam over an extended Mason Plumlee. After a series of turnovers, Jeremy Lin stopped the bleeding with a three pointer courtesy of hard work on the boards once again. A great feed from Lin to a cutting Hill who finished with a dunk tied the game back up at 45. Two straight Kelly field goals gave the Lakers the advantage with five minutes to go in the quarter and increased Kelly’s total to 12 points on the night. Wayne Ellington stole the ball off a bad Deron Williams pass and finished in transition. Robert Sacre collected another offensive board and had another deuce. With less than 30 seconds, Sacre converted with a hook shot to give the Lakers the lead. Brooklyn had the final possession and squandered it with a turnover. The Lakers had a 57-56 lead at the half.
The Lakers started the second half in a bit of a lull giving up two baskets and went down by four points quickly. Alan Anderson hit a three pointer for his third make on as many tries. Byron Scott was forced to called a timeout after a Joe Johnson three ball put the Nets up by eight points. A nice Wayne Ellington spin move and basket gave the Lakers their first basket of the quarter almost three minutes in. Jordan Clarkson hit a fade away but Brook Lopez responded with a jumper of his own. The Lakers defense continued to look suspect as Lopez hit another wide open jumper to maintain the nine point Nets lead. Jordan Hill stepped out for two straight jumpers of his own, challenging his counterpart Lopez, cutting the lead to six points. But the Nets kept attacking and took a 12 point lead after a Deron Williams jumper with nearly two minutes left. Lopez was continually left open and had 19 points on the game. Joe Johnson hit another long ball to stretch the lead to 18 points. The Lakers wasted their last possession of the quarter and fouled Markel Brown with two seconds to go. He made one of the two free throws and the Lakers entered the fourth quarter down 96-77.
The Lakers offense got off to a slow start in the fourth as the team recorded no field goals early, though Jeremy Lin was able to knock down four free throws to keep the Lakers deficit where it started at the quarter. Back-to-back jumpers from Lin and Nick Young cut the Nets lead to 18 forcing Lionel Hollins to call a timeout. Thaddeus Young got an easy layup out of the timeout, but the Lakers continued to fight and went on a run behind Lin whose back-to-back buckets cut the Nets lead to 12. The teams traded free throws and a three from Young cut the deficit to single digits. A steal led to an Ed Davis layup and foul, but he missed the free throw. Williams came back down with a tough layup to keep the Nets ahead by nine. Price missed a three and Young missed a heartbreaker three himself as time began to run down. Davis got a tip-jam and Alan Anderson split a pair of free throws, but the Lakers still trailed by eight with only 25 seconds remaining. Lin split a pair of free throws and Joe Johnson knocked down two to ice it. The Lakers fell to the Nets 114-105.