THE Los Angeles (LA) Lakers entered a prime-time matchup missing five rotational players and lost another early in the second half.
The energetic Lakers used ball pressure, sticky defense, and good perimeter shooting to run past the Brooklyn Nets (126-101) on the road last Saturday night. The Lakers corralled one steal and posted four blocks, forcing 19 Brooklyn turnovers while converting those into 25 points.
The Lakers also held the Nets to 43.8% shooting from the field and 101 total points, 18 below their league-leading average of 119 a contest.
In his second game back from a hamstring injury, Kevin Durant led the Nets with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge added 12 points.
Point guard Dennis Schroder carried the short-handed Lakers early, scoring all 19 points in the first half. Even an injured tailbone suffered while taking a charge on a baseline drive by Brooklyn’s Blake Griffin could not slow Schroder, who remained in the game.
Los Angeles surprisingly jumped out to an 18-7 lead on the strength of 54.% shooting from the field in the first quarter. The Lakers led by as many as 11 points in the opening quarter.
LA played without five of their rotational players due to injury. LeBron James missed his 11th straight game because of a right, high-ankle sprain. Anthony Davis missed his 25th game in a row due to a right calf strain.
Along with those two, Kyle Kuzma (right calf strain), Marc Gasol (hamstring), and Wesley Matthews (right Achilles soreness) were ruled out before the game on Saturday.
Predictably, the Nets reeled the Lakers in during a second quarter led by Kyrie Irving’s 18 points in the first half. They grabbed a four-point lead with just over three minutes left. However, the Lakers closed out strong and took a 61-58 lead into half time.
With 9:41 left in the third quarter and the Lakers up four points, the game produced some fireworks. Schroder and Irving had words during an inbounds play, which led to a double-technical foul and both getting ejected soon after for jawing at each other and the officials.
Irving had to be escorted off the floor and threw his No. 11 jersey into the stands as he exited to the locker room.
While Schroder had it going early, Andre Drummond took over in the second half, finishing with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers promptly went on a 26-15 run to finish out the quarter with a 15-point lead, and the Nets wilted from there.
Ben McLemore totaled 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the 3-point line for the Lakers. Markieff Morris added 14 points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 14 points and five assists.
NEW TIMBERWOLVES OWNERS?
Meanwhile, former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore appear to be close to owning the Minnesota Timberwolves, finalizing a deal with current owner Glen Taylor, according to reports.
The pair released a statement on Saturday.
“We look forward to entering this phase of the process with Glen Taylor. Our respect for him and the legacy he built lays an amazing foundation for what is to come. We are excited by the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organization, the talented team and their incredible fans.”
The letter of intent paves the way for a 30-day exclusive negotiating window. If a deal is finalized, they would first become minority owners, according to The Athletic, and in 2023, would gain full control.
The Athletic reported an agreement was reached on a $1.5-billion price and that the team would remain in Minneapolis — a requirement from Taylor, who has owned the team for almost 30 years. — Reuters