Here is what you need to know before the Lakers return home against the Brooklyn Nets.
1) KCP scorched last game
The Lakers are hoping that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s hands are still hot from Tuesday, when the six-year vet poured in 35 points — second-most of his career.
KCP went off in the second quarter, racking up 21 of his points. Yet he was effective throughout, shooting 12-of-20 from the field and 8-of-14 on 3-pointers.
Caldwell-Pope worked for his shots, seemingly never stopping his movement until finding a pocket of space, though his bucket of the night was quite the opposite.
A testament to how in the zone he was, KCP cooly stepped back to the halfcourt logo with time running out in the third quarter, and splashed a 30-foot buzzer-beater right in his defender’s face.
2) Matchup to watch: Point guard battles
Brooklyn boasts one of the top point guard platoons in the league, headed by former Laker D’Angelo Russell, who has made a leap in his fourth season.
The 23-year-old was named an all-star for the first time this year, thanks to a perimeter game that has sunk the NBA’s second-most jumpers. He is also on the verge of ranking among the top 10 in 3-pointers and assists.
Meanwhile, L.A. native Spencer Dinwiddie is overqualified off the bench, providing the second-most points and assists among the league’s reserves.
Defense will be the key for the Lakers in this battle. Rajon Rondo has averaged 11.4 points and 9.2 assists in 11 games since joining the starters, yet the Lakers may opt to have Reggie Bullock start their coverage on Russell. Meanwhile, two-way player Alex Caruso has shined defensively lately, with no shortage of technique, energy and toughness.
3) Brooklyn has all the momentum in the world
For a second it looked like the Nets were going to enter this night on a four-game losing streak, as they trailed Sacramento by 28 late in the third quarter on Tuesday.
What followed was the biggest comeback in franchise history.
Russell went to a new level, dropping 27 of his career-high 44 points in the fourth quarter alone. And Brooklyn’s defense shut the Kings down in that frame, holding them to 18 points on 5-of-22 shooting.
With the wind at their sails, the Nets are a dangerous crew. Along with their point guards, they feature NBA 3-point leader Joe Harris (46.4 percent); Jarrett Allen, who’s nearly top 10 in both field goal percentage and blocks; and former Laker Ed Davis, No. 2 in rebounds off the bench.
Lakers: LeBron James (sore left groin) is probable. Josh Hart (right knee tendinitis) and Lance Stephenson (left foot, second toe sprain) are questionable. Brandon Ingram (thoracic outlet decompression, right arm) and Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) are out.
Nets: Allen Crabbe (sore right knee) is out. Theo Pinson, Dzanan Musa and Alan Williams are on G League assignment.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Purple City
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California