Here is what you need to know before the Lakers face off against the Brooklyn Nets.
D’Angelo Russell has torched the Nets in his last two games against them, first scoring a career-high 39 points with eight 3-pointers in his March 1 breakout that also saw the start of his “ice in my veins” celebration. Then, he followed that by dropping 32 points on Brooklyn on Nov. 15, hitting seven more triples and grabbing eight rebounds along the way.
Russell wasn’t the only one to have a huge performance that night. Julius Randle assembled the second triple-double of his young career with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, as he joined Magic Johnson as the only Lakers with multiple triple-doubles before turning 22 years old.
The Lakers could use a game like that considering that they have lost seven straight since reaching a 10-10 record. Los Angles hasn’t yet won in December, instead allowing opponents to average 115.7 points on 50.7 percent shooting.
Fortunately for the Lakers, they tend to play pretty well against the Nets. L.A. has won 16 of its last 19 games against Brooklyn, including three in a row.
This current Nets iteration is also on a slide, having gone just 2-12 since starting the season 4-5. However, Brooklyn has pulled out a couple quality wins, including a 127-122 shootout victory over the Clippers on Nov. 29.
The Lakers will look to quell an encore performance from Brook Lopez, who piled up 30 points and 10 rebounds in their first meeting this year. The North Hollywood native tends to put on a show against his hometown team, averaging 24.8 points and 9.8 rebounds versus L.A. — his most of any opponent.
The Nets are made more dangerous by the return of starting point guard Jeremy Lin. The one-time Laker had missed his team’s previous 17 games due to a hamstring strain before notching 10 points and seven assists in his first game back Monday.
Trevor Booker is having a career year in his first with the Nets, ranking fourth in the NBA in steals (2.05) and ninth in field goal percentage (54.6). The cousin of former Laker Jordan Hill, Booker already has 10 double-doubles this season after never topping five in his previous six.
While the Lakers have their own issues on defense, Brooklyn is on a historically bad path. The Nets are allowing 115.2 points per game, which is on track for the most surrendered by any team in 25 years. One reason for this parade of scoring is the blistering pace that the Nets play at, considering they lead the league by averaging 104.1 possessions per game.
This trip to Barclays Center will be a return for Thomas Robinson, who played for the Nets just last season. In addition to him, assistant coach Jud Buechler began his 12-year career with the then-New Jersey Nets in 1990.
Lakers: D’Angelo Russell (sore left knee) and Julius Randle (right hip pointer) are probable. Jose Calderon (right hamstring strain) and Tarik Black (sprained right ankle) are out.
Nets: Justin Hamilton (migraine) is probable.
Tip-off: 4:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW