It was a battle between two desperate, winless teams, and the Los Angeles Lakers got the best of the Brooklyn Nets to capture the first victory of their young season.
This was the first of a five-game road trip for the struggling Lakers, and they took care of business against the 0-5, now 0-6 Nets.
Prior to the game, Byron Scott mentioned that his players were on a short leash, and he wouldn’t hesitate to deduct minutes from anyone who underperformed. It seems like his team heard the message loud and clear, especially rookie D’Angelo Russell who has had a sluggish start to his career.
But tonight, Russell filled it up offensively, scoring 16 points, 10 of which came in the second stanza, to go along with four rebounds and three steals. He did, however, record zero assists, which is quite disappointing for the young point guard who is known for his passing skills.
The difference in this game was the second quarter which was led by Kobe Bryant and the aforementioned Russell. The duo combined to score 20 of the team’s 34 points in the period to aid the Lakers to a five-point halftime lead after a slow start to the game.
Coach Scott decided to change his rotations in this game, and it worked. To start the season, both Metta World Peace and Larry Nance Jr. were in a suit and tie, having not played a minute until tonight. Nance finally made his NBA debut, scoring six points and nabbing five boards in 16 minutes.
World Peace, on the other hand, just had three points but made a huge impact on the defensive end, an area the Lakers have been immensely struggling. The 15-year veteran provided plenty of defensive energy and tenacity which ignited the young guys. The 35-year-old was also a team-high plus-12 on the floor.
While World Peace and Nance were inserted into the rotation, Brandon Bass and Marcelo Huertas were thrown out, although Bass did earn three minutes in this game late in the first half. Following the trend from the second half of the last game, Tarik Black once again earned the backup center role, replacing Ryan Kelly in the rotation. The big man finished with seven points and six rebounds.
The only area that was somewhat of a concern in this game was the assist numbers. As a team, the Lakers recorded just 14 assists, which signifies that there is very little ball movement.
The Nets were led by Brook Lopez, who continues to perform well. The 27-year-old big man put up another double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four blocks. He has truly upped his rebounding and shot blocking this season.
Meanwhile, it was probably a glorifying sight for Nets fans, as the slumping Joe Johnson had the best game of the season, pouring in 22 points on 50 percent shooting. Prior to this game, he was averaging 8.4 points on 28.4 percent shooting. Jarrett Jack added 18 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds.
But Brooklyn’s bench was dreadful, as they were outscored by Los Angeles’ bench, 38-16.
The Lakers had balanced scoring, as they were led by the 18 points from Bryant followed by 16 apiece from Russell and Jordan Clarkson. Julius Randle pitched in 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists and hit a crucial shot late in the fourth quarter to contribute to the W.
The Lakers will look to carry this momentum into the Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon as they play host to the New York Knicks, while the Nets will continue to search for their first win in Milwaukee tomorrow night.