The Los Angeles Lakers start a five-game road trip in Brooklyn against the Nets Friday night in a battle between two winless teams. The Lakers are coming in with a record of 0-4 while the Nets come in with a 0-5 record.
Both teams have started their season off slowly, as they are bottom 10 in defense and points per game differential. In fact, the Nets are last in points per game differential with a minus-14.6.
The Nets played their last game on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks where they lost, 101-87. Despite the loss, it was a very pleasant game for center Brook Lopez, who recorded a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds on an impressive 11 of 16 shooting.
In fact, Lopez has had a magnificent start to the season, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds on 56.9 percent shooting. He will have an intriguing matchup in this game going up against the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert hasn’t put up excruciating numbers, but he has been the Lakers’ best defender in the young season, averaging 2.8 blocks per game so far and immensely protecting the paint. While Hibbert has been great defensively, the rest of the team has not been up to par on that end of the floor. The Lakers are dead last in opponent points per game, giving up 116.8 points per contest and allowing opponents to shoot 48.6 percent.
Aside from their atrocious defense, it seems like the Lakers are still trying to figure out their rotations. For the first four games, Coach Byron Scott has gone 10 deep, using a second unit of Marcelo Huertas, Lou Williams, Nick Young, Ryan Kelly, and Brandon Bass. However last game, Tarik Black was utilized off the bench more than Kelly. Actually, Black surprisingly played more minutes than Hibbert.
The Lakers have been off since Tuesday when they played the Denver Nuggets, losing 120-109. Jordan Clarkson tied his career-high of 30 points, while Lou Williams added 24 off the bench, but it wasn’t enough since the Lakers defense allowed the Nuggets to shoot 50.6 percent.
Playing against another struggling team, perhaps the Lakers can find their groove defensively and ultimately repair their errors. And maybe Kobe Bryant, who has been shooting 32.3 percent from the field, could find his offensive rhythm.
Bryant isn’t the only one laboring, though, as the Nets’ Joe Johnson is also in an early season funk. The 14-year veteran has been worse, shooting 28.3 percent and averaging merely 8.4 points, his lowest average since his rookie season.
It’s only early in the year, but both Johnson and Bryant, 34 and 37 years old, respectively, are slowly being overwhelmed by father time.
Last season, Brooklyn swept the season series between the two teams, 2-0.
Friday night’s game will tipoff at 7:30 pm Eastern Time at the Barclays Center.