Wow: the final from Brooklyn, Lakers 126, Nets 101.
The Lakers were obviously without LeBron and AD, and Kyle Kuzma, Marc Gasol, and Wesley Matthews also missed the game. The Nets, despite having KD and Kyrie, were missing James Harden.
Nobody expected this outcome. I think most people expected this game to be Nets 126, Lakers 101. But the Lakers winning in a blowout? Unlikely.
Well, it happened. Yes, it’s true the Nets lost Kyrie Irving to ejection in the third quarter. But the Lakers also lost Dennis Schroeder as he was involved in the drama with Kyrie.
Even though Kyrie is a better player than Schroder overall, I think losing Schroeder was actually a bigger loss for the Lakers than Kyrie was for the Nets, just because the Lakers were already depleted and Schroder is arguably their best player with LeBron, AD and Kuzma out. Even after the Nets lost Kyrie, they still had Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Joe Harris.
When Kyrie and Schroder were ejected, the score was 66-62 Lakers and there was 9:41 left in the third quarter. The Lakers were outplaying Brooklyn even before Kyrie got ejected. And Schroder was actually slightly outplaying Kyrie.
Overall, the Lakers shot the ball extremely well:
Take a look at the newest Laker, Ben McLemore, who was 5/10 from three and 6/12 overall with 17 points. KCP also showed up, going 4/6 from three for 14 points.
When you shoot 56% from three, you’re probably going to win the game no matter who you’re playing.
And the Nets were atrocious from three:
5/27 as a team—yikes. You do not often see Joe Harris getting blanked from three.
Andre Drummond did well on the inside, going for 20pts and 11 rebounds on 8/15 shooting, an efficient and effective night. He is clearly making an impact on the Lakers already.
Now, in fairness Kevin Durant only played 24 minutes in the game and looked like he was on something of a minutes restriction. But the game was also a blowout by the 4th quarter so that’s probably a big reason he didn’t play a lot of minutes.
You can’t deny that this was a very impressive win for the Lakers.
Does it mean they will be able to beat the Nets in a Finals matchup? Well, it’s encouraging for sure. Harden wasn’t playing, but neither were LeBron and AD. The Lakers were in control even when Kyrie was in the game.
The Nets definitely should’ve won this game. There’s no reason they should have lost to a Lakers team playing without LeBron and AD. It’s definitely concerning for the Nets that they were dominated by the under-manned Lakers.
This win also means there’s less of an excuse for the Lakers if they end up losing to the Nets in the Finals. People can’t say, “Well of course the Lakers were going to lose; the Nets are a legit super team.”
Still, it’s a regular season game. We shouldn’t take too much from it. These things happen during the regular season. I don’t want to make excuses for the Nets because this was a really bad loss for them, but at the end of the day this was a regular season game. It will not matter come playoff time, or even a week from now.
It’s really encouraging for the Lakers, though. They now have a blueprint for beating the Nets, and I’m sure this game boosted their overall team confidence significantly. You can say the Nets just had a bad shooting night but this Laker team is really scrappy on defense even with LeBron and AD out.
It’s definitely not time to start preparing for another Lakers championship parade, but I think this win will cause a lot of people to reassess their belief that the Nets are going to roll to a title this year.