It is impossible to get a bead on this Nets team. Two nights after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers with one of their best all-around performances of the season, the Nets enter a Sunday afternoon against the Lakers and play down to their tanking competition, nearly blowing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead against one of the league’s worst teams.
Luckily for the Nets, the Lakers aren’t good enough to steal a victory away on the road. Any win is a positive with the Nets looking to regain footing in the Eastern Conference playoff race. But this kind of effort doesn’t bode well for more difficult competition. Unless, of course, you throw this game out and focus on the fact that the Nets put together their best win of the season two nights ago. Who knows which Nets team will show up?
13 PTS (5-13 FG), 9 AST, 1 REB, 3 STL, 3 TOV
Hot start for Williams, who hit quick shots in the first quarter to help the team build an early lead. Left for a long stretch with an apparent left shoulder injury, but returned to the game without incident. Struggled containing Lakers upstart rookie Jordan Clarkson.
17 PTS (CAREER-HIGH) (6-11 FG), 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL
When he’s on, he’s fun. Hit some uncharacteristic jump shots, continued to play strong stay-in-front defense, tossed a slick pass inside to Alan Anderson for a reverse layup in the third quarter (his prettiest of many assists), and threw down one “I just jump higher than you” slam dunk. If he can develop that corner three into a weapon, he’ll eat further into the team’s shooting guard minutes.
18 PTS (7-14 FG, 3-8 3PT), 8 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL
The Lakers are one of the few teams that the Nets can actually run on, and Johnson got out for more than one layup. Hit a big three late in the fourth quarter that put the Nets up eight with their lead dwindling. Another effective all-around game.
That said, the defensive effort leaves much to be desired. Johnson let Wesley Johnson[note]No relation[/note] drive right past him on multiple occasions, twice for dunks on the left baseline. Even if he’s leading him into help, there’s no screen or reason for Johnson to let him pass without so much as a bump, especially after the first time.
7 PTS (2-3 FG), 5 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL
Some aggressive moves by Plumlee down the stretch in the fourth quarter, even with Lopez in the game — a situation which has been a struggle for both players. Did not play in the final few minutes as Hollins elected to stick with the smaller lineup.
30 PTS (13-22 FG), 11 REB, 1 AST, 4 BLK
This is the type of team Lopez should have an easy time with: Tarik Black is an undersized defender, the Lakers allow boatloads of points in the paint, and Lopez drops in bunnies with a soft touch. Lopez went inside time and time again and put up another efficient game from the floor. He had trouble fighting Jordan Hill on the glass, but without Lopez pouring in the points against this team, the Nets drop a stinker.
7 PTS (3-4 FG), 2 REB, 2 AST, 3 TOV
Didn’t really notice him, which is usually a good thing. Did have a couple of ugly fourth-quarter turnovers.
4 PTS (2-10 FG, 0-5 3PT), 8 REB, 2 BLK
All about those three-pointers today. Unfortunately, the strategy didn’t work so well for him.
The Nets remain undefeated in the Earl Clark era.