Things were looking great for the Lakers on Monday. Despite Luke Walton’s first ejection as Lakers head coach, the team held a nine-point halftime lead in Sacramento. Then everything fell apart as the Kings outscored them 39-13 in the third quarter and the Lakers ultimately dropped their seventh straight game, 116-92.
Now the Lakers head to stop two of their road trip, as they find themselves in Brooklyn to take on the Nets. The Lakers defeated the Nets 125-118 in the first meeting, but the Nets have welcomed back point guard Jeremy Lin since then. The Nets, like the Lakers, have been struggling recently dropping 12 of their last 14 games.
Getting Jeremy Lin back is huge for the Nets as he was the team’s best playmaker early on in the season. He returned on Monday, but didn’t start, pouring in 10 points and seven assists. As he gets more comfortable he will certainly play a larger role.
Lin is currently a game-time decision however, due to back tightness. If he sits out, or remains in a bench role, the Nets will roll out Isaiah Whitehead and Sean Kilpatrick in the backcourt.
Kilpatrick is the better scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game, but the Lakers held him to only seven in the first meeting. Whitehead is more of a passer and playmaker.
The Lakers have their starting backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young back and both have had one good game and one bad game since their return. Russell, in particular, has thrived against the Nets scoring 32 points in the first meeting along with posting his career high of 39 last year against this same team.
Lou Williams continues to be the team’s most consistent offensive weapon and is averaging a team-high 19.3 points. Jordan Clarkson, meanwhile, has been inconsistent lately, but still remains one of the best bench scorers in the league.
The Nets’ offense runs through center Brook Lopez, one of the best offensive centers in the league. Normally a low-post player, Lopez has added the three-pointer to his repertoire this season making him even more dangerous.
Next to him is the tough and athletic Trevor Booker who isn’t the most skilled player, but does all of the dirty work. Bojan Bogdanovic is also a very dangerous player as the Lakers found out in the first meeting when he scored 29 points.
Off the bench the Nets have multiple different options including top-notch defender Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, veteran Luis Scola, and former first overall pick Anthony Bennett.
For the Lakers, Luol Deng is finally looking like the player the franchise had hoped they signed in the off-season. He is averaging 19 points, 4.5 rebounds and two steals in the last two games while shooting 62.5 percent from the field.
Timofey Mozgov continues to be solid in the middle for the Lakers providing his normal defensive presence along with a better than expected offensive game and Julius Randle will be looking to bounce back after an awful performance in Sacramento that saw him score just two points.
Both Larry Nance Jr. and Thomas Robinson performed better than their numbers suggested against the Kings thanks to their constant activity and defense. Rookie Brandon Ingram continues to struggle offensively, but finds different ways to make an impact in every game.
Three Keys To Victory
Guard the 3-Point Line:
The Nets attempt over 30 three-pointers per game. With that amount of shots you don’t have to make an extremely high percentage to make a huge impact so it will be important for the Lakers to make sure those attempts are well-guarded and challenged so they don’t get hot from deep.
Attack the Paint:
The Lakers got to the free throw line 43 times in first matchup. Like the Lakers, the Nets can be foul prone at times so attacking the paint could pay dividends if they can get the Nets in foul trouble. Simply getting into a 3-point shootout with the Nets would make this a tougher game than it has to be.
Control the Glass:
The Nets are an average rebounding team and one of the worst at giving up boards to the opposition. The Lakers are a top-10 offensive rebounding team. They must take advantage of that and get themselves plenty of second-chance opportunities.
Los Angeles Lakers (10-17) Vs. Brooklyn Nets (6-17)
4:30 P.M. PST, December 14, 2016
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Nets Starting Lineup:
PG: Isaiah Whitehead
SG: Sean Kilpatrick
SF: Bojan Bogdanovic
PF: Trevor Booker
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Jeremy Lin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Anthony Bennett, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Thomas Robinson