LOS ANGELES — Like a superb status drama, the storylines forward of Friday’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center swirled with intrigue. Ultimately, the episode delivered a satisfying ending for the Lakers, a 124-112 victory.
Between D’Angelo Russell’s return, Lonzo Ball’s manufacturing drought and Thursday night time’s coming-out celebration for Kyle Kuzma one night time earlier than he confronted the workforce that dealt him for Russell, the sport provided way more fodder than a matchup between a few Three-5 groups rightly ought to.
Yet for all of the subplots, the Lakers received the sport in a fairly typical method — by attacking the paint relentlessly in each conceivable method. Brook Lopez lorded over the Nets as a traditional pivot man towards smaller models. Jordan Clarkson and Kuzma dominated off the dribble. And Julius Randle exploited undersized mismatches. The Lakers discovered 40 factors within the paint within the first half alone and completed with 68.
Lopez dominated the motion together with his inside-out recreation, concluding the night time with 34 factors and 10 rebounds. In a league that is quickly downsizing, Friday night time was an apt reminder that there will probably be treasured few video games on the schedule when Lopez will not be a handful for opposing defenses. When Lopez wasn’t making mincemeat of the Nets’ inside protection, he was launching bombs from distance and crashing the glbad. He drained 6 of 9 makes an attempt from past the arc.
With Larry Nance Jr. sidelined with a fractured hand, coach Luke Walton tabbed Kuzma, the opposite import within the Russell deal, as his new beginning ahead. Kuzma, the 27th total choose within the 2017 NBA draft, promptly delivered his full complement of abilities. In addition to the aforementioned drives, the rookie drained a Three-pointer and slung a beautiful cross off a baseline drive to Brandon Ingram for a end within the third quarter. Kuzma scored 21 factors and wolfed up 13 rebounds in 39 minutes, a workforce excessive.
Kyle Kuzma goes to the spin transfer and finishes with a scoop shot within the lane.
Russell was the decisive winner within the level guard matchup and the point of interest of the Nets’ offense. Was it a efficiency to salute? Inconclusive. Though he loved little success from lengthy vary and posted a less-than-efficient line, Russell was opportunistic, slicing by visitors to the rim with confidence, but overexuberant with a case of tunnel imaginative and prescient. He completed the sport with 17 factors on Eight-for-24 taking pictures, together with seven badists and 7 rebounds.
“When will Lonzo look for his shot?” remained a persistent query popping out of the Lakers’ heartbreaker in Portland. Ball supplied a convincing reply over the primary three minutes of the sport with 4 discipline purpose makes an attempt — double his whole sum from Thursday night time. If his goal was to rack up extra photographs, then he succeeded unreservedly. On an evening that started with an air ball, Ball was aggressive to the basket and wanting to a fault, delivering a Three-for-15 outing for six factors, 7 badists and 5 rebounds in a zippy recreation with 114 possessions unofficially, a tempo that appealed to his sensibilities as an open-court level guard. Ball was the one Laker out of ten to complete the sport and not using a turnover.
Whether the Lakers made the proper name in changing Russell with Ball as their level guard shifting ahead will not come into focus for the foreseeable future. Whatever unease might accompany Ball’s present struggles in his third week as an expert, the Lakers took solace on Friday night time in outperforming their opponent in practically each area of the ground.