Nets go small and LeBron does it all: Takeaways from the Nets-Lakers showdown

The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers entered Thursday evening’s sport at Staples Center with loads of star energy, even with the Nets lacking Kevin Durant and the Lakers with out Anthony Davis.

Besides Davis, LeBron James and the Lakers were also without place to begin guard Dennis Schroder. James confronted Kyrie Irving, his former teammate, and Irving improved to 3-10 towards LeBron. James Harden led the Nets with 23 factors and 11 assists in Brooklyn’s 109-98 victory. The Nets are actually 10-1 towards groups with a .500-or-better document.

Here are takeaways from what could possibly be an NBA Finals preview:

Nets discover success in small ball

Over the previous two video games, the Nets have sharpened a potent weapon: their small-ball lineup. Against the Lakers, the Nets’ smaller beginning lineup of Harden, Irving, Joe Harris, Bruce Brown and Jeff Green aided Brooklyn in constructing an 11-point halftime lead. The early success of that small lineup pressured Lakers coach Frank Vogel to start out Markieff Morris over Marc Gasol to start the second half. It was the identical small lineup that helped the Nets climb out of a 12-point deficit (that they had been down by as many as 24) towards the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday and come again to win. The small lineup has additionally been constantly used to shut out video games. With Green at middle, the Nets have outscored their opponents by 10.2 factors per 100 possessions. When Durant returns, the Nets’ small-ball lineup stands to develop into much more harmful. — Malika Andrews

LeBron needed to do it all

Coming out of a third-quarter timeout on Thursday, the Staples Center video board confirmed a compilation of LeBron James highlights, beginning with a baby-faced rookie in outsized Cleveland Cavaliers warm-ups, all the solution to the bearded 18-year veteran in the Lakers uniform he wears at present. The nostalgia reel completed with an outsized graphic, “35K POINTS,” commemorating James changing into simply the third participant in league historical past to score 35,000 career points, as he joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone in that elite group with a free throw in the first half. Artificial crowd noise echoed out of audio system above as the 36-year-old James, taking part in in Game No. 30 of 30 on the Lakers’ schedule this season, toiled towards the league’s newest superteam.

Every week in the past, Lakers-Nets had all the makings of one in every of the video games of the 12 months. But with Davis out indefinitely with a strained calf and Achilles tendinosis in his proper leg and Durant lacking a 3rd straight sport with a hamstring damage, the matchup misplaced loads of juice. Schroder, the pesky guard the Lakers deliberate to throw on Irving all evening, being a late scratch due to the league’s well being and security protocols did not assist issues, both.

While the sport did not almost reside as much as its hype, James did his half, scoring 32 factors, grabbing 8 rebounds, dishing 7 assists and including a few clips to that profession spotlight reel — one notably poetic turnaround rainbow shot over Jeff Green and one other hovering one-handed baseline jam.

We’ll all have to attend to see if these groups will meet once more at full energy in the NBA Finals. In the meantime, James, the sport’s fixed customary for almost 20 years, might be on the market, empty seats or not, taking part in the sport he has found out like few have. — Dave McMenamin

Nets proceed sizzling 3-point taking pictures

When the Nets added James Harden to All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, there was loads of dialog about Brooklyn’s offensive potential with three of the league’s greatest scorers. The Nets’ taking pictures might need gotten overshadowed. After one other scorching taking pictures evening (18-of-39, 46%), Brooklyn is now taking pictures a league-best 42% from 3-point vary since Harden’s debut on Jan. 16. And the Nets aren’t slowing down; they’re heating up. Brooklyn’s 65 3s over the previous three wins — all performed with out Durant — have been surpassed by simply two groups over a three-game stretch: the 2018-19 Houston Rockets and this 12 months’s Milwaukee Bucks.

The Nets have the luxurious of a deep steady of shooters. Since Harden’s debut, Brooklyn has five players making better than 40% of their 3s on at least 60 attempts — all three stars plus position gamers Joe Harris (whose total 51% accuracy leads the NBA) and Jeff Green. A sixth participant, reserve Tyler Johnson, has hit 42% of his extra restricted makes an attempt over the previous month (13-of-31).

It’s going to be arduous for the Nets to maintain taking pictures this effectively. No crew in NBA historical past has managed 42% 3-point taking pictures over a full schedule with the line at its present distance. (The Charlotte Hornets shot 43% in 1996-97, the final of three seasons wherein the 3-point line was quickly moved in to 22 toes.) But the stage of taking pictures Brooklyn has put round its stars is a key cause this offense has proved so tough to defend. — Kevin Pelton

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