Lakers vs. Nets: 3 Things to Know (11/3/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers return home to face the Brooklyn Nets.
1) All eyes are on BroLo and D-Lo
For the past nine years, Brook Lopez established himself as one of the best players in Nets history. For the last two seasons, D’Angelo Russell was considered a key piece of the Lakers’ future.
Now, after being traded (in part) for one another over the summer, both are getting used to new surroundings as they get set for their first game against their former teams.
Lopez — the Nets’ all-time leader in scoring and blocks — struggled in his five games leading up to Thursday’s contest in Portland, averaging only 8.6 points during that stretch.
But he broke through in a big way last night, hanging up a season-high 27 points. The Lakers managed to get Lopez going down low, as the center shot 8-of-11 inside the arc while showing off an array of post moves.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn has immediately made Russell the focal point of its attack, as the 21-year-old ranks second in the NBA in usage percentage.
Russell has shown worthy of those added opportunities, as he already has two 30-point games this season — including a 33-point outburst in his last outing, versus Phoenix.
As he showed during his time in L.A., Russell has been especially effective in pick-and-rolls. Here he puts his pull-up jumper to good use, as he ranks second in the NBA in scoring by P&R ball handlers (12.4 ppg).
With the Nets’ trusting him to handle the ball on most possessions, look for him to come out firing in his return to Los Angeles.
Brook Lopez leads the Lakers with a season-high 27 points pic.twitter.com/9PQy4eXpMX— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 3, 2017
2) Lakers will have to replicate Nance’s production
The Lakers will have to deal with their first major injury of the year, as Larry Nance Jr. broke his left pointer finger in last night’s game.
The power forward was having a great start to the year, with four double-doubles in seven games. But now head coach Luke Walton has a hole to fill in his starting lineup.
Julius Randle would be the most obvious choice, having started the majority of the last two seasons. However, he has feasted on opposing second units — shooting the NBA’s fifth-best field goal percentage (63.6). Walton could want to keep him in that role, where he has been so important as a small-ball center that can attack the paint at will and switch onto guards defensively.
One of Walton’s other options is Kyle Kuzma, who continues to show skill beyond his years after dropping a season-best 22 points last night. Among rookies, Kuzma ranks third in scoring (15.0) thanks to an expansive scoring skill set. Against Portland, he simply took slower bigs off the dribble, shooting 9-of-12 on two-pointers, mainly off straight-line drives to the hoop.
Kyle Kuzma scores career-high 22-points in Portland pic.twitter.com/VIgIiFTGMr— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 3, 2017
3) This should be a scoreboard burner
The players might want to break out some track spikes for this one. For as much as the Lakers have pushed the tempo this year, the Nets hit the throttle like no other team.
Brooklyn runs the fastest pace in the league (108.5 possessions per game, four more than L.A.), which means this is promising to be an up-and-down battle with both teams putting up plenty of shots.
While the Lakers and Nets each like to get out and run, they have found success on opposite ends of the floor.
The Lakers have pieced together consecutive strong offensive showings, though they struggled to score through their first six games. However, their defense has been solid all year, ranking 10th in efficiency.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, puts up the NBA’s third-most points per game (114.6). Yet they are giving back even more on the other end, where they surrender a league-high 118.8 to their opponents.
Lakers: Andrew Bogut (back tightness) is questionable. Larry Nance Jr. (fractured left pointer finger) is out.
Nets: Jarrett Allen (left foot strain) is questionable. Jeremy Lin (ruptured patella tendon, right knee), Quincy Acy (left groin strain) and Isaiah Whitehead (G League assignment) are out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California