The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to snap their eight-game losing streak as they return to the friendly confines of the Staples Center to host a favorable match-up against the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers will be without Kobe Bryant as he deals with his “sore shoulder” while they prepare to run their re-tooled offense.
Meanwhile, the new-look Nets have improved since the buyout of Joe Johnson’s contract, going 2-1 since his departure. With both teams in the bottom-5 of the league, a win for either team shouldn’t affect their lottery status.
The Nets were first on the board with a left-handed finish from Thaddeus Young, while Roy Hibbert got the Lakers off to a solid start with consecutive buckets to take a 4-2 lead. Brooklyn then went on an 8-0 run to take a quick lead before Los Angeles came back with a run of their own with three straight buckets from D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle to re-take a 13-10 lead midway through the first. Both teams continued to trade buckets and the lead before the purple and gold were able to pull ahead thanks to a block that resulted in a put-back for Larry Nance Jr. and the 24-19 lead. Clarkson finished the quarter doing a bit of everything with four points, four assists, and four rebounds.
After a questionable goaltending call on Nance, the Nets got some momentum on offense by cutting the Laker lead to one before Russell answered back with a Dirk-like fadeaway in the post to make it a 28-25 game. Nick Young provided an instant spark off the bench, this time, with his defense as he picked the pocket of Sergey Karasev before feeding Nance for the fast-break finish to extend the lead, 34-28. Russell looked extremely comfortable with the ball as he put on quite the display, dishing out dimes followed by back-to-back three’s to increase the lead, 42-32. Both teams again began to trade buckets, but the Lakers’ offense was clicking on all cylinders as they finished out the half ahead, 58-50. Russell finished the half leading all scorers with 15 points, while Hibbert went a perfect 6-for-6, with 12 points and five rebounds.
The Lakers picked up right where they left off with a jumper from Anthony Brown on the assist from Hibbert. The Nets finally scratched with a layup from Wayne Ellington before Russell answered back with his fourth three-pointer of the game, followed by the and-one finish from Randle to extend the lead to 66-54. Brooklyn tried to chip into the lead with a smooth finish from Donald Sloan, but Russell was having none of it as he hit his fifth three of the game to give him 23 points the 71-59 lead with six minutes to go in the quarter. The Nets began to creep slowly back into the game as they found themselves down by just seven points after a reverse layup from Brook Lopez. Brooklyn then went on a 9-0 run to come with one point before Swaggy P put a quick halt with a three-pointer and the foul. After buckets from both teams, the Lakers were able to finish on a high note thanks to a three from Clarkson to take a 79-74 lead as they head into the fourth.
The fourth quarter got off to an entertaining start after a sequence that involved two steals and a block by Tarik Black that led to yet another three from Russell to give him 26 points, just one point shy of his career-high. The Nets were able to capitalize off a steal with an easy, uncontested layup before Marcelo Huertas came back with a floater off the glass to take an 84-78 lead. Huertas started to find his groove as he dazzled the crowd with a no-look pass to Nance for the dunk, followed by a back-door delivery to Russell to give him a new career-high 28 points. The Nets remained resilient, however, as they kept within striking distance behind Lopez’s ability to get to the rim to make it a 90-84 game with six minutes left. Lopez continued to get to the free-throw line and score around the rim, luckily, he fouled out with three minutes left in the game with Brooklyn down by just five points. However, the Nets were able to rally to within one before Clarkson put an end to their 7-0 run with a finish on the post. After a Brooklyn miss, Russell came down with a dagger in the heart and ice in his veins as he swished his seventh and eighth three-pointers of the game to put the Lakers in control with a 103-97 lead. The Lakers were able to hold on for a 107-101 victory while Russell made the Lakers record books with 39 points on 8-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc, the most ever by a rookie in franchise history.