The Los Angeles Lakers continued their road trip with a primetime matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, although they were once again short-handed without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews.
That didn’t seem to matter though, as the Lakers put together one of their best performances of the season to earn a convincing 126-101 victory.
The Lakers came out playing inspiring basketball against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets in Brooklyn, jumping out to an early 18-7 lead. Talen Horton-Tucker, Dennis Schroder and Markief Morris all knocked down 3-pointers, while Andre Drummond picked up five early points to force the Nets to call timeout.
Landry Shamet provided an early spark off the bench for Brooklyn though, knocking down a pair of threes of his own to get back within five at 23-18. Despite five turnovers in the first quarter, the Lakers were able to outrebound the Nets, 13-7, and kept their distance, leading 33-25 going into the second.
While the Nets roster is filled with current and former All-Stars, the one knock on the team is their defense, particularly in the interior. Schroder made sure to exploit that early, drawing switches onto their big men and attacking the rim time after time in the first half.
Unfortunately though, Schroder hurt his back taking a charge on Blake Griffin, and although he was able to stay in the game, he was clearly feeling the effects of the fall. That allowed Irving to get going offensively, and before long, the game was tied at 52 late in the second quarter.
The Nets even took a 4-point lead after a 17-3 run, but credit to the Lakers for weathering the storm and closing the half strong to take a 61-58 lead into the locker room.
While both teams were led by their point guards in the first half, there were forced to be without them in the second as Schroder and Irving were jawing at each other early in the third, resulting in two technicals each and ejections for both.
The Lakers didn’t use that as ab excuse to fold though, and after a pair of threes and a layup by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, they built their lead up to 15. After a Brooklyn turnover, Talen Horton-Tucker found Markieff Morris for a dunk to make it a 17-point lead, causing the Nets to call timeout.
The blowout continued into the fourth quarter, where the new Laker, Ben McLemore, made his presence known by catching fire and hitting four 3-pointers to extend the lead to 22, effectively putting the game out of reach.
With a number of tough games on the horizon and no set return date for either James or Davis, the Lakers will take any win they can get, and this was a big one against another championship contender on the road.
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