The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2021-22 season got underway on Sunday afternoon with some preseason action against the Brooklyn Nets.
Both teams were without key players, and it was ultimately the Nets that came out on top, pulling away late to earn a 123-97 victory.
Anthony Davis, who only played in the first quarter, got the scoring going on the afternoon, converting an and-one opportunity but the Nets took an early 11-3 lead after knocking down a few 3-pointers. Talen Horton-Tucker woke up the crowd with a dunk in the half-court, but Brooklyn still maintained a 10-point lead early.
DeAndre Jordan got in on the fun, finishing an and-one lob after Kent Bazemore found him from the corner and also came up with a block on the other end, while Brooklyn started to slip offensively after committing three consecutive illegal screens. Wayne Ellington was able to hit three free throws after getting fouled from beyond the arc, but Los Angeles would go into the second trailing 25-19.
The Nets rookies put them back up by double digits as Cameron Thomas and Kessler Edwards were able to get going from the field. However, Malik Monk answered with a personal 8-0 run to narrow the deficit. Kendrick Nunn finally scratched from the field off a nice runner in the lane, while Monk continued his hot shooting from the field.
The Laker backcourt got into a groove as Nunn and Horton-Tucker took turns scoring, but the Nets were able to answer each time. Horton-Tucker’s three at the end of the quarter did not go through, so Los Angeles found themselves down 57-49 at the half.
With Davis done for the day, head coach Frank Vogel decided to go small and start Ellington in the second half but Brooklyn extended their lead to 11. However, Kent Bazemore and Ellington were able to get jumpers to fall to cut the Nets’ advantage in half.
Both teams went cold from the field, though Dwight Howard was able to fight for extra possessions on the offensive boards. The game flow halted to a screech as the officials took some time to review a flagrant on Howard, but Monk’s three at the buzzer trimmed the game to 84-81 Brooklyn.
Monk led the way for the Lakers with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting off the bench, knocking down three of his six 3-point attempts.
Vogel opted to empty the end of his bench in the fourth and predictably the Lakers began to lose ground as they fell back down to 14. Things got even more out of hand as the Nets were able to earn several and-one opportunities and began the fourth quarter on a 24-2 run to put it out of reach for good.
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