The Brooklyn Nets (6-2) face the newly D'Antoni coached Los Angeles Lakers (5-5) at Staples Center tonight. Here's all you need to know, and the things you didn't know you'd want to know.
The Who/What/Where/When: The Brooklyn Nets take on the Los Angeles Lakers tonight (Tuesday, November 20th), at Staples Center in Los Angeles at 10:30 P.M., 7:30 Pacific. The Lakers are finishing up a six-game homestand and have won four of their last five games, and the Nets are rolling on a five-game winning streak, most recently taking down the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, and are on the second game of their three-game road trip.
TV/Radio: Tonight's game will be broadcast on YES and NBA TV, as well as WFAN and in Spanish on WADO.
Starters: CRASH STILL BACK! The Brooklyn Nets will start their "standard" five, with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez. The Los Angeles Lakers, without starting point guard Steve Nash, have started Darius Morris in their past three games as his replacement next to Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.
Key reserves: After a 9-point fourth quarter to help take down the Kings, MarShon Brooks may find a few more minutes in tonight's rotation, cutting into graceful veteran and human cannon Jerry Stackhouse's minutes. Reggie Evans, C.J. Watson, and Godfather Andray Blatche -- who scored 22 points on 11-12 shooting against Sacramento -- round out Brooklyn's Bench Mob that I wish they called The Brooklyn Zoo. The Lakers have gotten solid contributions out of Jordan Hill, but the rest of their bench has struggled; Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks have underperformed, as has Steve Blake (who will miss tonight's game with an abdominal strain). They also have Chris Duhon, who is nearly a professional basketball player.
Dwightmare, part 1: Brook Lopez, historically, has played well against the Lakers but struggled against Dwight Howard, averaging just 13.7 points per game on 44.2% shooting when the two match up. Howard's numbers against Lopez are similar to his career numbers: 20.5 points and 14.5 rebounds on 61.1% shooting. Howard's teams are 10-1 in their 11 matchups.
Dwightmare, part 2: Deron Williams and Howard are spatting. Blah blah blah.
Key Advanced Statistics:
Brooklyn Nets: Offensive rating 109.7 (3rd), Defensive rating 104.1 (17th), 88.9 possessions per game (30th)
Los Angeles Lakers: Offensive rating 108.0 (7th), Defensive rating 102.6 (13th), 93.1 possessions per game (9th)
Brooklyn Nets Offense (league rank): eFG% .498 (9th), TOV% 13.3 (7th), ORB% 29.5 (9th), FT/FGA .241 (6th)
Los Angeles Lakers Offense (league rank): eFG% .508 (8th), TOV% 15.5 (27th), ORB% 34.3 (2nd), FT/FGA .262 (2nd)
Brooklyn Nets Defense (league rank): eFG% .488 (19th), TOV% 13.4 (20th), DRB% 71.5 (22nd), FT/FGA .176 (4th)
Los Angeles Lakers Defense (league rank): eFG% .472 (7th), TOV% 12.5 (28th), DRB% 74.7 (8th), FT/FGA .164 (1st)
Line defense: Sunday night, the Brooklyn Nets faced the NBA's worst foulers -- the Kings at game time allowed more free throws per field goal attempt than any other team. On a related note, the Nets shot 25 free throws (making 22) to 75 field goal attempts against the Kings Sunday. Conversely, the Lakers tonight are on the opposite end of that spectrum -- they allow just .164 free throws per field goal attempt, the best mark in the NBA. The Nets' best shot at this one may be to try to get Lakers bigs in foul trouble -- it just may not work.
Tests: This is the second team the Brooklyn Nets have faced this season that's significantly more talented than them. The first? The Miami Heat. They lost by 30. The Nets haven't exactly made a habit out of upsetting teams in these past few seasons. Can they come out with a victory tonight, on the road, against a team that frankly should kick the BrooklyKnight out of them?
Wingin' it: Deron Williams had a distinct advantage on Sunday night against Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Thomas, but didn't take full advantage. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon pose a similar (lack of) challenge. Conversely, the Joe Johnson-Kobe Bryant matchup could prove to be exceptionally interesting -- Johnson's old-school spot-up and post-up style versus Bryant's dizzying array of moves, particularly attacking the basket, will be a fun one-on-one to keep an eye on.
Season standings: The Brooklyn Nets are 6-2, on a five-game winning streak, and 1 game behind the Manhattan/New York Knicks for first place. The Knicks play the New Orleans Hornets tonight, who are missing #1 overall pick Anthony Davis. The Los Angeles Lakers are 5-5, ranking third in the Pacific Division, though that's hardly an accurate representation of their ability: they've won four of five games since firing coach Mike Brown.
Dan Tony: After five games under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, official Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni and his spread pick-and-roll offense appears set to take over the coaching ranks tonight.
In 2K13: Lakers win, 123-104. The Brooklyn Nets had a shot, but the Los Angeles Lakers prove to be just too good. The team rode their "big 3," who each scored over 20 points (led by Kobe Bryant with 37), and a 5-5 night from 3 for Steve Blake. The Nets kept it close in the first three quarters but fell apart in the fourth, getting outscored 35-17 in the final frame. Brook Lopez had just two rebounds to Dwight Howard's 21, proving that this game is realistic. Deron Williams led the Nets with 29 points but finished with just 6 assists.
NBA 2K13 Record: 7-2
2K13 as predictor: 5-3