By Maximo Gonzales
With the Los Angeles Lakers off to yet another 0-4 start, this season already has even the most optimistic Laker fans tempering their already lowered expectations for this year. It was expected that the purple and gold would need some time to gel before seeing the improvement that everyone in Lakers Nation so desperately craves, but losing to teams that lack the talent this squad has is always a tough pill to swallow.
The shooting struggles of Kobe Bryant and the adjustment of D’Angelo Russell to the NBA has seemed to overshadow the bright spots that are currently shining for the Lakers. Julius Randle recorded his third double-digit scoring performance so far this year and is quietly establishing himself as an electrifying up-and-coming forward in the league, even earning the respect of future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. Meanwhile, Jordan Clarkson dropped 30 on the Denver Nuggets, tying his career-high.
The Lakers now begin a five-game road trip against another team that is also looking for their first win of the season in the Brooklyn Nets.
Headlining the frontcourt for the Nets is Brooke Lopez. The Stanford product has easily established himself as one of the most skilled big men in the league. A capable perimeter shooter, Lopez is also known for his craftiness in the paint and ability to finish at the rim. Alongside Lopez is the former Sixer Thaddeus Young and sharpshooter Joe Johnson. Young has been a dynamic scoring forward for most of his career, while Johnson is a seven-time NBA All-Star, capable of getting hot from deep any given night.
Leading the way at point is 11-year veteran Jarrett Jack. Jack is a scoring guard that usually doesn’t take long to make his presence felt when he’s on the floor. Either Russell or Clarkson is going to have their hands full defending Jack, who is capable of scoring from anywhere on the court. With him is the second-year man out of Oklahoma State, Markel Brown. Brown was taken in the second round of last year’s draft and is still looking to establish his role with a Nets team that traded for his rights just after he was drafted.
Keys To Victory:
Defense, Defense, Defense: The blame for the slow start to the season has mainly fallen on Kobe’s shot selection and Russell’s slow adjustment, but perhaps the main reason for the winless start is the horrid defense. It should come as no surprise that the Lakers give up more points per game than every other team in the league. The Lakers offense certainly is not the problem, as it is currently top-five in the league in points per game, averaging 106 per contest. However, it is outweighed by the fact they surrender a league-high 116 points per game.
With Larry Nance out with a broken nose, the energy coming off the bench has certainly taken a hit. Aside from Lou Williams and Nick Young, no one has been too productive off the bench. Of the 39 total bench points scored against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, 24 of them came from Sweet Lou. The Lakers will need contributions from Marcelo Huertas and frontcourt players if they want to start their road trip with a win.
Better Shot Selection:
The Lakers tend to get in a habit of letting it fly from deep, especially when there is still plenty of time left on the shot clock. Now this wouldn’t be an issue if they converted those attempts into points. However, that has not been the case, as they shot 23 percent going 6-for-26 from three-point land. By continuing to take these kinds of shots in games, the Lakers dig themselves into a deeper hole in which they have yet been able to get out of.
Los Angeles Lakers (0-4) at Brooklyn Nets (0-5)
4:30 PM PST, November 5, 2015
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN (English)/ 1330 AM ESPN Deportes (Spanish)
Nets Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: Markel Brown
SF: Joe Johnson
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Brooke Lopez
Key Reserves: C: Andrea Bargnani, G/F: Bojan Bogdanovic, F: Thomas Robinson
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Julius Randle
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: G: Lou Williams, F: Nick Young, PG: Marcelo Huertas