Despite a late comeback, the Los Angeles Lakers fell on Christmas Day to the Brooklyn Nets, 122-115.
The Lakers’ defense was slow out of the gate as the Nets moved the ball around for good looks en route to an early 14-6 lead. Malik Monk made his return to the lineup and immediately got loose for a layup, though Los Angeles trailed 22-10 as their defense could not get any stops.
David Fizdale turned to a small-ball lineup with LeBron James at center that breathed some life into the team as they went on a modest 6-0 run. Stanley Johnson brought good energy and made plays on both ends of the floor, but Los Angeles’ porous defense put them in a 38-23 hole.
It was a much better showing at the top of the second for the Lakers as Malik Monk went on a personal 5-0 run that forced a Nets timeout. However, James Harden re-entered the game and immediately went back to work scoring the basketball and putting Brooklyn back up 47-36.
James took over the offense and forced the issue in the painted area, helping the Lakers cut the deficit to single digits. Los Angeles’ intensity and physicality picked up in the closing minutes of the half, and they would walk into the locker room only down 66-62.
James surpassed Kobe Bryant as the all-time leading scorer on Christmas Day.
Fizdale turned to the small lineup to start the third, which paid dividends as they took the lead after consecutive threes from Wayne Ellington and Carmelo Anthony. However, the Nets responded with their outside shooting and put the Lakers back down 85-76.
Outside of James, the rest of the Lakers found trouble scoring the basketball, which allowed the Nets to extend their lead back to 11. With James off the floor, Los Angeles looked out of sorts on both ends, and they suddenly were facing a 102-82 deficit going into the fourth quarter.
The Purple and Gold started to mount a comeback as they uncorked a 17-0 run ignited by James and Monk. The Laker defense was swarming as they were able to generate turnovers and get stops each time down, pulling within six points midway through the period.
Despite a Patty Mills three, James answered with one of his own and a layup in transition to get the Lakers within striking distance. However, despite James’ late-game heroics, the Nets were able to do just enough to secure the victory and extend the Lakers’ losing streak to five.