Lakers Vs. Nets Preview: D’Angelo Russell Returns To Staples Center For First...

Lakers Vs. Nets Preview: D’Angelo Russell Returns To Staples Center For First Time

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Jordan Clarkson D'Angelo Russell Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time D’Angelo Russell was the next great Los Angeles Lakers guard. Now he looks to exact some revenge on his former team as he returns to Staples Center for the first time as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Lakers are coming off a rough loss last night against the Portland Trail Blazers and will be looking to turn things around. Unfortunately they will have to do so without starting power forward Larry Nance Jr. who is out for a while after fracturing a bone in his hand on Thursday.

Brooklyn comes in having lost three straight games. Like the Lakers, they are a team full of intriguing young talent with a couple of reliable veterans thrown in as well.

The Nets also have the luxury of not having played since Tuesday so they should be well-rested against the Lakers who flew back in late from Portland last night.

Backcourt:

Lonzo Ball didn’t play terribly in the Lakers’ loss to the Blazers, but he was very passive as Luke Walton pointed out. He took only two shots and his aggression level will need to pick up, especially with the Lakers’ offense struggling so far.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been very good the last couple of games for the Lakers on both ends of the floor. He did an excellent job harrassing C.J. McCollum and could spend a lot of time guarding D’Angelo Russell, the Nets’ leading scorer, tonight.

Jordan Clarkson and Josh Hart bring two completely different things off the bench as Clarkson is one of the team’s leading scorer, while Hart is all about defense and hustle. Both will need to outplay the talented young players in Brooklyn’s backcourt.

That backcourt of course starts with Russell who is the primary scorer and ballhandler for the Nets. His 34.8 percent usage rate is the third highest in the entire NBA ahead of big names like LeBron, Westbrook, and Giannis. He is the head of the snake for this Nets team.

Next to him is Caris LeVert, a solid all-around guard who handle the ball and create for himself and others. Off the bench the Nets have a trio of dangerous shooters in Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, and Joe Harris. Dinwiddie in particular has shown the ability to take over games so he is someone the Lakers must contain.

Frontcourt:

The Lakers are going to miss the hustle, rebounding, and defense of Larry Nance Jr. in the starting lineup. He was the glue guy for this team and he will be missed. It’s unknown who will start in his place, but Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle will both see an increase minutes.

Brook Lopez is coming off his best game as a Laker with a season-high 27 points against the Blazers. He showed off his offensive repertoire and looked comfortable and confident. As did Brandon Ingram who has continued to look more relaxed and aggressive.

In the last three games Ingram is averaging 14.3 points, 3.7 assists, 3.3 steals, and 3.0 rebounds. He has been very effective on defense, but has a tough match-up against Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Hollis-Jefferson is the Nets’ best defender and an excellent athlete who will make things tough on Ingram. Former Laker Timofey Mozgov occupies the center role as will also be making his Staples Center return. He doesn’t see too many minutes however, as the Nets prefer to go small and run.

Veteran DeMarre Carroll rounds out the starting lineup as a leader and defensive presence. He is also a threat from deep, shooting over 42 percent from three-point range. Trevor Booker provides energy and rebounding off the Nets bench, while Tyler Zeller will see some minutes as well due to injury.

Three Keys To Lakers Victory

Who Steps Up For Nance: Whether it is Kuzma or Randle who steps into the starting lineup, neither brings the defensive play that Nance does. Both will need to step up defensively as they are both primarily offensive players, and the rotations and roles will change so they need to adjust.

Take Care of the Ball: Both teams like to play fast as they are top-5 in pace so this will be a track meet. Running in control is important however, and the Lakers have struggled taking care of the ball this season. If they can create some Nets turnovers and get easy buckets it will go a long way.

Don’t Get Killed From Deep: Much like last night’s game against the Blazers, the Nets live from the three-point line as they attempt the fifth-most in the league. The Lakers still aren’t a great shooting team so they can’t afford to let Brooklyn get hot from deep as they probably won’t be able to hang in a shooting contest.

Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) Vs. Brooklyn Nets (3-5)

7:30 P.M. PST, November 3, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: TBA
C: Brook Lopez

Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, Corey Brewer, Josh Hart

Projected Nets Starting Lineup:

PG: D‘Angelo Russell
SG: Caris LeVert
SF: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
PF: DeMarre Carroll
C: Timofey Mozgov

Key Reserves: Spencer Dinwiddie, Trevor Booker, Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris

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