Well it happened.
Your Los Angeles Lakers actually won a game! Against a decent Brooklyn Nets team! With LeBron James on hiatus!
Anthony Davis took advantage of the Nets’ undersized frontcourt, which thinned even further after starting center Nicolas Claxton left with a bruised left eye.
The Nets gave up 116 points tonight after not dropping more than 100 points in the last five competitions. The final margin: 116-103.
With the win, the Lakers’ record improved to a still-poor 3-10. The Nets are now 6-8 after the loss.
Davis knew he had to be assertive and look for his offense against Brooklyn early and often. The only real threat the Nets faced all night was All-NBA forward Kevin Durant, and while he delivered, his peers struggled to score against Los Angeles.
Brooklyn was without star point guard Kyrie Irving, reserve Ben Simmons and sniper Seth Curry.
He wasted little time cooking in the first period, scoring eight of the Lakers’ first 22 points and frequently coming inside against the Nets’ smaller frontcourt.
The most satisfying moment of the evening for sixth man Russell Westbrook, who was rebranded as a fan favorite in his new role, was probably this block from his old Oklahoma City Thunder pal Durant:
Here is the block as captured in the broadcast footage:
Davis would not be denied on the inside and would make a majority of his field goal attempts from inside. The Lakers led by the end of the first half by nine, 55-46.
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Los Angeles tried to get Davis early in the second half with this nice lob pass to Anthony Davis, provided by sophomore guard Austin Reaves:
In a big break for LA, Brooklyn’s only good center, Nicolas Claxton, suffered his aforementioned eye bruise at 8:32 in the third quarter.
Davis was a problem all game. And Russell Westbrook knew he had to be on the lookout for almost every opportunity:
After being as much as 16 points behind, the Nets went on a fast 16-3 run to reduce the Lakers’ lead to just three, 80-77. Davis had 31 points and 14 rebounds in just the first three quarters.
Nets All-Star Kevin Durant decided to forego his standard break to start the fourth quarter of the game in hopes of helping the team get one last boost.
The Lakers struggled not to give away another late-game lead tonight, as they have done far too often lately. Russell Westbrook attacked early in the frame and sprinted inside for this nasty slam:
Westbrook then used his driving skills again on the next possession, this time finding Troy Brown Jr. for a corner triple.
The game stayed tight for the first few moments of the fourth quarter as Davis sat on the bench and went within four points 91-87, with Davis coming on for Wenyen Gabriel at the 8:28 mark of the frame. With Davis back in the roster, Los Angeles immediately put on a 14-0 run and effectively won the contest. Davis pick-and-rolls made the Nets particularly brutal during this period.
Davis finished with 37 points on 15 of 25 shots from the field and 7 of 7 from the free throw line. The 6’10” tall man grabbed 18 (!) rebounds, including the 10 offensive boards that was the most in his career. That mark was more than the entire Nets club StatMuse Remarks.
Lakers shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV also made his presence felt, scoring 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Reaves finished with 15 points while Westbrook contributed 14 points, 12 assists and six rebounds off the bench.
LeBron James was seen chatting at court with former 2020 Lakers champion Markieff Morris after Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” beamed over the Crypto.com Arena speakers.