Carmelo Anthony posts up against Brooklyn

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Nets - 1/25/22

by Matthew Barrero

A valiant comeback came up just a little short in Sunday’s, 113-107, loss to the Miami Heat. The Lakers (23-24) shift their attention to another top-10 team in the form of the Brooklyn Nets. Opening tip is set for 4:30 p.m. Pacific on Spectrum SportsNet.

Here are three things to know before tonight’s matchup:

THE BROW’S RETURN
Following a month on the sideline, Anthony Davis has been upgraded to probable for tonight’s game and could see his first action since Dec. 17. In his last appearance in the game against Minnesota, AD found himself on the floor and in some pain on two separate occasions.

The first time, it appeared Davis rolled his ankle and after returning from the locker room, Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels fell directly into AD’s leg, sending the big man out for the remainder of the night.

The Lakers did avoid an absolute worst-case scenario as Davis was diagnosed with an MCL sprain and missed 17 games (L.A. went 7-10 during his absence). In those games without Davis, L.A. allowed an average of 51.2 opponent points in the paint (sixth-most in NBA) and 14.1 opponent fastbreak points (second-most in NBA).

The Lakers have utilized Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan as their replacement big men and put LeBron James at the five on many occasions, but AD’s return, paint presence, and two-way prowess will aim to reinvigorate a Lakers team looking to string together wins and make a playoff push.

LeBron shared his thoughts during Sunday’s post game about the return of his teammate.

“Anytime you get a talent like that that comes back to the lineup it boosts our team physically, mentally, and spiritually,” James stated. “You get a big-time player on both sides of the floor.”

DON’T LET HIM IN HIS ZONE
LeBron has picked up his game since Davis’ injury. In that game against the Timberwolves, James finished with 18 points and shot below 40.0 percent. Since then, LBJ has scored 25-plus points in every game (a current streak of 17 games) and has shot below 40.0 percent once (against Denver).

The King has been an unstoppable force since mid-December and has averaged 32.5 points, shot 53.4 percent from the field and has played a little over 36 minutes per game.

Furthermore, James has scored the fifth-most points off turnovers (4.4), fourth-most points in the paint (15.6) and is tied with the Grizzlies’ Ja Morant with the most fastbreak points (5.0) in the league in that time span.

For LeBron, it’s just another day at the office. The 37-year-old spoke about his workload and impressive play of late during Sunday’s post game.

“That’s just been how the games have been going,” James noted. “I don’t need to score thirty a night. I’m in one of the best zones offensively I’ve been in my career, and I don’t plan on stopping it. That’s just how I feel. I feel fantastic, shooting the ball extremely well from the field…I just play the game and the scoring is happening organically.”

GET GOING EARLY
Over the last five games, the Lakers have found themselves trailing at the end of the first quarter in four of those games. On average, L.A. has given up an average of 29.6 points (allowed 34-plus points in two of those games) to their opponents while scoring 26.8 points themselves and only scored 30 or more points in the game against Indiana.

Granted, the difference is a small margin (-2.8), but the Lakers are middle of the pack when it comes to average points in the first quarter (27.6 – 17th in NBA). Brooklyn on the other hand is tied with Minnesota as the best team in the NBA when it comes to scoring in the opening frame (29.3).

In their last meeting on Christmas Day, the Nets jumped out to an early 15-point lead by the end of the first. Brooklyn found most of their early success specifically in the paint as nine of their first 13 made field goals came within the key.

James Harden and Patty Mills contributed to the Nets quick start as the duo combined for 24 of the 38 total points in the opening frame (Harden had 11, Mills scored 13).

The Nets were without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the game in Los Angeles, so nothing changes in terms of game preparation for the Lake Show tonight, as both KD and Kyrie will not be in the lineup once again.

Brooklyn is coming off a four-game road trip and are 6-7 so far in January, including a 2-4 record at home. For the Lakers, a fast start and getting Davis involved early can be a key component to leaving the “Big Apple” with a victory.

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