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Lakers vs. Nets Preview: Looking to keep the good groove going

Now is the perfect opportunity for the Lakers to capitalize on this small momentum they’ve built and keep the good grove going against the Nets on Friday.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers will take on the Brooklyn Nets for the first time this season on Friday. The purple and gold look to win their third straight game and their fifth in the last seven.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets

When: 7:30 p.m. PT, Jan. 19

Where: Arena

Watch: ESPN, Spectrum Sportsnet

Just like that, the Lakers find themselves in a good grove after momentum-building wins against the Clippers, Thunder and Mavericks over the last week. This stretch has easily been the best L.A. has looked since the In-Season Tournament.

The Lakers’ strong play as of late has obviously a lot to do with superstars Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but they’re not the only ones behind it. Since returning to the starting lineup three games ago, D’Angelo Russell is averaging a superb 27.3 points and 5.7 assists on 53% three-point shooting per game.

And speaking of the starting lineup, the unit of Russell, Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince, James and Davis got off to a great start again last Wednesday against the Mavericks. They scored 105 of the team’s 117 points before garbage time.

A trend that they’ve been doing really well is forcing their opponents to turn the ball over, as they did with the Mavs who gave up the ball 15 times. Related, LA produced a season-high 32 fastbreak points. They also did what they do best, which is score in the paint where they dominated the Mavs by a 62-46 margin.

In my my most recent preview, I asked whether or not moving to the old starting lineup was the right move and with a small two-game sample size, it seems to be the right call. The Lakers are playing with a different type of energy and confidence that just weren’t there during their dry spell in the last few weeks. Now, the goal for them is to keep it up as they have two games against teams below .500 coming up.

Zooming into the Nets

After starting their season with a respectable 13-10 record, the Nets have gone on their own dry spell as well, losing 14 of their last 17 games. They’re currently on a four-game losing streak. They will challenge their opponents every night but are flawed in more ways than one. They’re 18th in the league in offensive rating and 21st in defensive rating.

Outside of Mikal Brides — who is averaging 21.4 points a game — there’s no star player to really worry about. They have a couple of quality role players like our old friend Lonnie Walker IV, Cam Thomas, Spencer Dinwiddie and Nic Claxton. But L.A.’s firepower should be an advantage for them assuming their superstars suit up.

What’s worth looking out for, though, is the Lakers’ penchant for playing down to their competition. The last thing they want to do is throw this game away because they didn’t come out as serious as they did in the last two games. Now is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this small momentum they’ve built and keep the good grove going.

Let’s see if the Lakers can do just that and start their weekend on a great note against the Nets on Friday.

Notes and Updates:

  • For the Lakers’ injury report, the team lists Anthony Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy) as probable. Note that his injury label has changed to this since he’s been probable due to a left ankle sprain and bone bruise over the past couple of games.
  • Aside from Davis, LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) is noted as questionable. while Cam Reddish (left knee effusion) and Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery) are out.
  • As for the Nets, Mikal Bridges (right shin contusion) is probable while Day’Ron Sharpe (left knee hyperextension), Ben Simmons (left lower back) and Dariq Whitehead (left shin stress reaction) are listed as out.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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