Lakers vs. Nets Pre-Game Report: Short-Handed Nets Next For Lakers

New Jersey Nets (19-35) at Los Angeles Lakers (33-20)
7:30 PM PST, April 3, 2012
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)

Nets Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Deron Williams
SG: MarShon Brooks
SF: Gerald Wallace
PF: Kris Humphries
C: Johan Petro

Key Reserves: G Anthony Morrow, G Gerald Green

Lakers Last Five: 3-2, W vs GS, W vs NO, L vs OKC, W @ GS, L vs MEM.
Nets Last Five:
4-1, W @ SAC, W vs GS, W vs IND, L vs UTA, W vs CHA.

A valiant effort and some terrible (depleted) defense by the Golden State Warriors led to a 40-point outburst for Kobe Bryant, and the team’s highest scoring total of the season as they put 120 points on the board in an eight point victory. Up next is a suddenly streaking New Jersey Nets team that has won four of it’s last five games, including their last two on the road. The Nets are without a big piece of their squad with Brook Lopez missing some time due to an ankle sprain. It gives the Lakers an advantage that they will gladly take as they continue through their final stretch of the regular season. This is a key game for the Lakers, who stand just a game and a half on top of the Clippers, their next opponent after tonight’s contest.

Frontcourt: With Lopez on the shelf, Johan Petro has seen an increase in his minutes. The 26-year old Frenchman is very quick for his size, but does not really know what to do with it. He has a decent jump shot, but absolutely no post-game. He also gets into foul trouble very quickly, something that could play into the Lakers’ favor given New Jersey’s lack of size. Size, not something that plays into Kris Humphries’s favor either. The 6’9″ forward is responsible for 13.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, respectable stats that are well-above his career marks. It could be a sign of his selfish ways paying off, but also brings down the rest of the team. Still, he is a very good defender who executes when needed. Finally, the backcourt is completed by the former Portland Trail Blazer Gerald Wallace, a terrific transition player, rebounder, and defender. Wallace exploded against Indiana, scoring 24 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. In two games against the Lakers (with Portland) this season, he is averaging 19.0 points per game, just about six points over his season average of 13.7 points.

Backcourt: The regression continues for MarShon Brooks, who started the season as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. However each month his production has faltered. He started by scoring 15.3 points per game in December, continued to keep it close with 14.7 points in January, dropped it to 13.2 in February, before falling to just 10.0 points in March. In his two latest games he has scored a combined 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting. With his production faltering, his role may begin to diminish. Brooks is the ideal player for the Lakers to attack. All with reason too because aside Brooks is superstar Deron Williams. Williams does it all for the Nets. He scores, rebounds, passes, and defends extremely well. His weakness is his lack of a shot. Williams is that special type of player that will sacrifice one ability so that he can compliment another, much like he did in a 30-point effort against Indiana where he had just nine assists. Meanwhile against the Warriors he scored only nine points, but had 20 assists. When he scores low, it is likely to be because of his outside game, which is very poor.

Fun Facts:

  • The Lakers lead the overall series against the Nets by a margin of 59-19. The Lakers have won their last seven meetings, against New Jersey, last losing on November 25, 2007, a 102-100 defeat.
  • The Lakers are 77-35 when Kobe Bryant scores 40 points or more.
  • With a road record of 12-16, the Nets are one of two teams (New Orleans Hornets) to have a better record on the road versus at home, where they are 7-19.

Keys to a Laker Victory:

Expose the Lack of Size
The Nets are very small, quite the opposite of the Lakers. With one seven-footer alone (depending on Bynum’s status), the team might be still be at quite the advantage. Should Petro get into foul trouble early, it could be a very long night for New Jersey.

Let Humphries Get Happy
With Kris Humphries it is simple: Give him the ball and he will shoot it. Humphries is bad at passing the ball, sure he can score, but he is no game-changer.

Be the Lakers, Play Your Game
The team has really played down to it’s competition, barely escaping close affairs with the Hornets and the Warriors (twice). The Nets are streaking, but by no means match up to the Lakers on paper. Blow them out and send a message to the Clippers in preparation for tomorrow night.

Best-Case Prediction: Lakers 110, Nets 98
Worst-Case:
Nets 99, Lakers 98

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