The Nets never make it easy, but they do make it interesting.
Lakers center JaVale McGee — not LeBron James — plagued the Nets all game long. McGee scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 20 boards.
But the Nets, as they often do, adjusted and ultimately defeated a demoralized Lakers team.
After completing the largest comeback in team history, the Brooklyn Nets surely hoped a win would come easier against the ailing Lakers.
Just two nights ago, Brooklyn — once down 28 — used a 27-point fourth quarter from D’Angelo Russell to shock the Sacramento Kings.
Russell, paired with Treveon Graham, Rodions Kurucs, Jared Dudley, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, led the Nets to perhaps the most crucial victory in the Brooklyn era.
And Hollis-Jefferson — of all Nets — hit the game-winner.
Hopefully, the Nets would ride the momentum into Los Angeles.
With a new starting five, head coach Kenny Atkinson hoped a lineup change would end Brooklyn’s recent offensive woes.
But early on, the offense was nowhere to be found.
The first half, to put it nicely, was hard-fought and tightly contested — a far cry from some of Brooklyn’s recent losses.
Brooklyn shot an abysmal 36 percent from the field in the first half — shooting 5-18 from deep. The Lakers, somehow, shot at an even worse clip than the Nets. Los Angeles shot under 32 percent from the field and James only mustered eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.
Centers Jarrett Allen and JaVale McGee represented the majority of the offense. McGee scored the Lakers’ first ten points and Allen had nine. At the half, the Nets led the Lakers 44-43.
In addition to getting the three-pointers to fall, Brooklyn would need to limit its turnovers if they wanted to complete a series sweep.
The Nets turned the ball over nine times in the first half — which rarely coincides with a victory. Fortunately for Brooklyn, Los Angeles committed just two fewer turnovers.
Brooklyn, namely Joe Harris, stepped on the gas in the third quarter. Harris hit three three-pointers in the quarter.
The Nets — once leading by nine in the third — led by five entering the fourth quarter.
But McGee gave the Nets fits on the boards, allowing LA to stay in the game via second-chance points. Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis did all they could on the glass, pulling down a combined 26 rebounds.
In a back-and-forth final quarter, neither team could pull away from the other.
But the Nets — with under four minutes remaining — used an 11-2 run to lead the Lakers by nine with 2:37 left.
But the Lakers wouldn’t quit.
James singlehandedly kept LA in the game, narrowing the deficit to three with under 30 seconds left.
With the ball in his hands and a chance to tie the game at 109, LeBron turned the ball over for the eighth time tonight — all but ending LA’s hope.
A Dinwiddie free throw gave the Nets a four-point lead with 16 seconds to go, putting the nail in the coffin.
The Nets would go on to win 111-106, improving to 38-36 on the season. Brooklyn now sits a half game back of Detroit for the sixth seed in the East.
The last time the Nets swept the Lakers in the season series was in 2014-2015.
With the loss tonight, the Nets eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention.
I bet you wouldn’t believe that in October.
The stats: 21 PTS, 8-20 FG, 13 AST, 3 STL, 6 TO
D’Angelo Russell’s revenge game did not get off to the start he envisioned.
After a career-high 44 point performance in Wednesday night’s improbable victory, Russell managed to score only six points in the first half.
But Russell tends to save his best self for the second half.
Russell scored 15 points in the second half, but his 13 assists are what stood out the most.
Russell got his third straight double-double tonight — his eleventh of the season.
He only had eight combined double-doubles in his first three seasons in the NBA.
The stats: 19 PTS, 4-14 FG, 3 REB, 2 STL
After a scorching hot five games, Dinwiddie entered the night amid back-to-back rough shooting performances.
Despite Dinwiddie’s poor shooting tonight, he showed signs of life for the first time since last Saturday’s loss to the Jazz.
Dinwiddie will have a chance to build on his success Tuesday in Portland.
The stats: 14 PTS, 7-11 FG, 15 REB, 1 BLK
Undoubtedly Brooklyn’s best free-agent signing, Ed Davis brings hustle and fire every time he touches the floor.
In a tough battle against JaVale McGee, Davis did all he could to slow the big man down.
Davis managed to grab 15 rebounds, in addition to a 14-point performance.
The stats: 13 PTS, 4-7 FG, 11 REB, 1 BLK
Allen got off to a fast start tonight. He neared a double-double in the first quarter — scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Allen — like Davis — battled McGee all game long. The veteran got the best of the sophomore, but Allen still provided a lift for Brooklyn on the offensive end.
Games like these toughen players like Allen — who will keep improving on both ends of the court.
The Fro recorded his 24th double-double of the season tonight — after only posting four last season.
The stats: 26 PTS, 8-15 FG, 6-8 3PT, 3 REB, 2 AST
Tonight, Harris was unstoppable.
Draining six threes, Harris led the Nets with 26 points. Whenever Brooklyn needed a basket, Harris answered the call.
Hopefully, Harris’s efficient shooting will continue throughout the rest of the season.