In one of the more confounding and frustrating games of the season, the Lakers played one of their best offensive halves of the season before utterly collapsing in the second half to one of the worst teams in the NBA in the last two weeks, falling to the Nets 130-112.
The purple and gold put up 68 points in the first half and then followed that up with an abysmal second half, scoring just 44 in the second half.
The big three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell had big scoring nights. They scored a combined 70 points with 24 rebounds and 19 assists. Jarred Vanderbilt had his best offensive game all season, scoring 12 points with five rebounds off the bench.
Austin Reaves struggled mightily, going 4-12 from the field and 0-6 from the 3-point line, finishing with just nine points. The Lakers’ bench managed just 18 points before garbage time with Vando accounting for most of those and Max Christie the rest. Rui Hachimura and Christian Wood were a combined 0-11 from the field before garbage time as well.
The Lakers came out the gate pushing a fun pace. AD was already putting up his stamp on the game defensively. D’Angelo’s streak of being an offensive weapon continued as he made his first two 3-pointers. Nets' offensive weapon Cam Thomas came in and started making all of his shots to stop some of their bleeding. The Lakers were up the entire quarter and it was 37-28 at the close.
Former Laker Lonnie Walker came in and provided a nice spark for the Nets with 10 points. The second quarter's energy was more in the Nets’ favor, but both teams were having trouble making consistent shots. Any time it looked like the Nets were gaining a tiny ounce of life, the Lakers responded. LeBron scored 16 points in the 15 minutes he had played. The Lakers allowed the Nets to shoot 53% which kept them in the game. The Lakers were up 68-62 at the half.
LeBron has passed Klay Thompson for the 7th-most made 3-pointers in NBA history after making his 2nd long distance shot of the night. (@ESPNStatsInfo)— Jorge Sedano (@Sedano) January 20, 2024
The Nets opened up the third quarter cutting the Lakers lead to two. Cam Johnson made it a one-point game. Mikal Bridges nailed a 3-pointer to help the Nets take their first lead of the game. The Lakers were having a hard time getting their heads back into the game. The Nets had all the momentum, but the Lakers began to answer back and Austin Reaves cut the Nets lead to two.
The Nets answered back and made it a nine-point lead. Vando knocked down two corner threes, but the Nets still had the momentum and were up 10. At the end of the quarter, the Nets were up 100-90.
Up 12 in the 1st half and scoring easily, the Lakers let up defensively, and Brooklyn picked up momentum, with a 24-point turnaround to lead by 12 late in the 3rd Q.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) January 20, 2024
LAL now have a 100-90 hole out of which to dig after a 38-22 3rd Q margin.
The fourth quarter started with the Nets continuing to have all the momentum. LeBron picked up a technical foul when he complained to the refs. The Lakers suddenly stopped some bleeding and cut the Nets' lead to 10 after they were starting to extend it.
The Nets extended their lead to 18. The Lakers struggled all night and just couldn’t find any signs of life. With five minutes left in the game, the fake comeback Lakers were trying to make an appearance. That didn’t matter and the Lakers grabbed the most pitiful loss this season.
A reoccurrence all season long has been the Lakers losing their energy when they go cold offensively and that is always the reason why they lose a lead and go down big.
The dip in quality from the first half to the second was jarring but not surprising, considering what we’ve seen all season. To play one of their best offensive halves and then mess up in the second half is pathetic.
You will not win a game when your bench is nonexistent.
The Lakers’ next game is on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers at 7:00 PM PT.
You can follow Karin on Twitter at @KarinAbcarians.