Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Nets

Darius Soriano —  March 1, 2016 — 66 Comments

Records: Lakers 11-49, Last in the West; Nets 17-43, 14th in the East
Offensive ratings: Lakers 98.7, 29th in NBA; Nets 99.8 27th in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 109.5, Last in the NBA; Nets 106.4 24th in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Russell, Clarkson, Kobe, Randle, Hibbert
Nets: Donald Sloan, Markel Brown, Bojan Bogdanovich, Thad Young, Brook Lopez

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have not won a game in nearly a month, losing 8 straight contests wrapped around the All-Star break. Their last win came on February 4th against the Pelicans. Since then, the team has seen their struggling defense lose even more steam, falling even further behind the rest of the league by tacking on over a point allowed per 100 possessions. Their offense has improved over that span too, but not to the point that it’s affected the team’s league worst net rating.

This team should be rested, however. Their last game was on Friday and, while they held a practice on a typical off-day on Saturday, their legs should be fresh heading into tonight. The extra practice time should also help from an execution standpoint, at least that is the hope. As we discussed after Friday’s loss to the Grizz, the Lakers are installing a new “offense”, though the phrasing there might draw the ire of head coach Byron Scott. On Saturday he disputed the team was learning a new “offense”, instead insisting it is only one new “set”. However, on Monday he noted that the set has “a ton of options” and compared it to the Princeton which is a “set” which as a “ton of options”. I’ve never heard the Princeton referred to in this way, but that’s not that important.

What is important is the Lakers having some new actions to run on offense and based on feedback from some of the players and the head coach, a goal is to inspire more ball movement and less isolation basketball. The Lakers would do well to shift in this direction regardless of labels, so I hope to see how the extra days to drill the set/options transfers from the practice court to actual games.

One player who will not be part of this new offense is Kobe Byrant. As it was on Friday, Kobe will miss this game with a sore right shoulder. It is not yet clear if he will play in Denver tomorrow, but considering how Kobe has been loathe to miss road games since announcing his retirement, my guess is that he will play that contest after taking today off. We shall see.

The Nets Coming in: Tonight is game 5 of a massive 9 game road trip in which the Nets are currently 2-2. They lost last night against the Clippers, but before that had beaten the Jazz and the Suns. On Monday they lost more than a game, however, as Wayne Ellington suffered a concussion and is now doubtful for tonight. This leaves the Nets even more shorthanded than usual — they were already without Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Jack — and on the 2nd night of a back to back I expect them to be somewhat weary. Especially if they had a nice night on the town in Los Angeles as is prone to happen when teams stay for back to back matchups with the Clippers and the Lakers.

I would talk more about the Nets here, but, and this is not meant as disrespect, but there’s really no point in that. The Nets are a bad team. Besides Brook Lopez and Thad Young, they lack above average, healthy talent on their team right now. Earlier in the year they waived Deron Williams and in the past week they did the same to Joe Johnson. They also owe their upcoming draft pick to the Celtics so not only are they not winning a lot of games, but they don’t even have the hope of a potential reward when the lottery drawing occurs. So, they will play out the string and try to be active in free agency this July. Sadly for them — and their fans, really — it is only March 1st.

Nets BlogsThe Brooklyn Game is an excellent team site which covers this team from every angle imaginable. They are well worth your time.

Keys to game: We are at the time of the year where those worried about the Lakers keeping their draft pick are on high alert. Throughout the season a win here are there could be celebrated by even the most ardent tank commanders, but not anymore. And, for them, tonight’s game against the Nets is a contest circled on the calendar as one of the more important remaining games.

Yes, the Nets are 6 up in the loss column, but the combination of injuries, depleting their roster further via buyouts, and this long road trip surely has fans who have dreams of Simmons or Ingram skittish. A loss tonight helps further lock these teams into their respective lottery odds and, for the Lakers, that means something (whereas, as discussed above, for the Nets it does not).

Why is this a “key to the game”, you ask? Well, it’s not. But it is something to watch for beyond how hard Brook Lopez takes it to Roy Hibbert or the battle between Thad Young and Julius Randle. I am not on the “stealth tank” train like so many others are, but this is a contest the Lakers would probably do well to lose if the lottery really is on their mind.

Anyways, as for what will actually determine this game, for me it’s pretty simple:

  • How tired are the Nets?
  • How well will Brook Lopez play?
  • Will the Lakers look comfortable running their offense?
  • Can the Lakers defend the perimeter at all?
  • Will Russell continue his good play from the past month?
  • Which team will control the backboards?

Whichever direction the answers to these questions skew, that team will win the game. I don’t have the answers for you, but I will be watching to see how it goes.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.

Darius Soriano

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66 responses to Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Nets

  1. Hmm 1st poster and this been posted for a couple of hours, the other thread was more interesting because we know this game is going to be a crapfest. Hope we win and sweep a series for a chance lol. We have a solid 6 game “lead” on the Nets. So a win shouldyhurt so much. Damn that DAR sure looks like a bust huh?

  2. Jordan Clarkson: 4 pts. (1-3 shooting), 4 rebounds, 4 assists in the 1st quarter.

  3. Please make a thread where people who cried about Russell being a bust must admit they are wrong, and pro-Russell people can gloat.

  4. Hey Marques you were saying? Running out of arguments huh? I hope he scores 30 just because…

  5. Boy, it would have helped the idiot who wrote about Russell yesterday to include the stats from this career high in the making game…

  6. Donald sloan…..fern, you better not.

    Lol…but I knew you would.

  7. I’m sure that Marques kid will make a comment about his defense, because you know, a 19 year old is supposed to be a perfect polished player. Or some other irrelevant nit pick.

    I just remember Curry and Harden and Westbrook and Lillard all had similar critics and numbers in their rookie years (although at 21-23 years old or whatever).

  8. This is great. A 30+ point game for Russell. He’s our guy.

  9. 31 for Russell!!!

  10. DAGGER by “The Bust”!!!

  11. 37!!!! Another Dagger!!!!!the mist points scored by a Laker rookie in HISTORY, take that hater!!!

  12. Russell with a great game, good things happen when he closes a game.

  13. C’mon guys, I was expecting a Huertas bandwagon. Can’t a Brazilian get some love?

  14. I said in preseason that I would be interested in how Russell looked over the last 20 games or so.

  15. Huertas was key with his decision making down the stretch. But Russell made a huge statement tonight i dont think any rookie has scored 39 this season, he is for real and this should put a lot of the “bust” talk to rest. So much for the ” he is a bust and a role player at best” dumb talk…

  16. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game… Russell had 39 points!? Wow.

  17. DLo. Wow!

  18. Great game tonight from DAR. But…he was not alone. The kids in general played well (as did Hibbert):

    D’Angelo Russell — 39 pts. (14-21 shooting; 8-12 from 3), 6 rebounds, 3 assists
    Jordan Clarkson — 16 pts. (6-15 shooting), 7 rebounds, 7 assists
    Julius Randle — 14 pts. (6-13 shooting), 13 rebounds, 1 assist

    TOTAL — 69 points, 26-49 shooting, 26 rebounds, 11 assists

    Folks, this is goodness. This is what this season is all about.

    Now, how good can they be next year?

  19. This used to be a serious site….nets have exactly 1 NBA player left on its roster.

    I digress, let the requisite circular celebration begin.

  20. Russell looks a lot better. Looks like Byron and Kobe are not stunting his development unlike some would like to believe.

  21. 10:06pm is me.

  22. So now it is because the Nets only have one nba player in their roster. How many many NBA players the Grizzlies have? and he scored 22 against them. Stats trending up every month i guess those weren’t against NBA teams either, man get out of here with that garbage. You are a hater and got a resounding STFU moment. Last i checked the Nets still have a better record than the Lakers.

  23. I’ve seen enough of russell to say he will be a good player in this league…but tonight he showed potential to be an all-star. the dude finally got the opportunity to show what he can do in clutch situations and delivered the lakers a win. he had one other clutch game in minny earlier in the season but this was better. he was never a bust…but my only gripe was the coaching staff and kobe not letting russell show what he can do. we need more of this in the final 20 or so games. i’m going to the game next week and i am actually hoping kobe sits it out. lol.

  24. Then I guess every opponent against the Nets have had guys drop 39 on them. Srlsy, I think Marques needs to take a break from the site and relax a little.

    At this point he is fighting to be right instead of getting it right. Kind of sad. It’s just basketball, enjoy it, and watch the young guy flourish the way Kobe did 20 years ago.

    Ps- it took Kobe 250 games before he dropped 39. Look up the Lakers last rookie to score 39.

  25. Russell too funny. In his veins! Gotta love that confidence. Funny, too.

  26. Russell = Curry

    (In time, of course)

  27. Clutch Russell Has Ice In His Veins

  28. We’ve got our star !

    Now to build around him.

  29. I’ve been pretty optimistic about the kid but my goodness tonight was fun. The J, the pace, the strength for his position. Really fun to see him put it all together.

  30. What was the comment about Black getting more playing time? Or would that have given Russell too many chances for assists? The Lakers needed this game for their pride. Now they can go back to the Kobe farewell tour.

  31. bleedpurplegold March 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Man i need to shut up and enjoy! Damn was i wrong about russ a couple months back, i cant repeat it often enough….

    I was watching that steph game winner over and over again, really was in awe….this dagger of dloa, to me at least, was just as impressive. Idk where he got this kind of confidence from, but damn we could be looking at a stronger, bigger version of steph here in a couple of years…

  32. Kid looks good when he is at the 2. He is the scorer and Clarkson is the natural point. They both look better when they swap.

  33. nice game by DAR, getting comfortable with himself as the season winds down.
    very good news for Lakers, but still he needs to hit the gym more. 🙂

    we have our future splash bros in DAR and Clarkson, hopefully Randle will be our Dray.
    anyways, t’was fun watching the game. the future is bright.

  34. Renato Afonso March 2, 2016 at 1:25 am

    Since when was a rookie our star? The Lakers are not like others. This is why I’m not saying anything about Russell yet. One (or 10 or 50) does not turn a guy into a future HoFer nor a draft bust. Bad players can have a few great nights in them and great players go through rough stretches sometimes. People seem so eager to label Russell…

  35. Russell’s 3FG% for the season went from .347 (91/262) to .361 (99-274) because of last night’s game.

  36. Sure, only one game – but definitely trending in the right direction.
    How do I really feel?
    Terrific outing for any player, regardless of age or experience.
    To think no rookie has scored 39 since Baylor is unreal.
    Any questions?

  37. @Renanto im not calling him our star yet, what im looking for now is consistency the rest of the year. How he performs today is important…

  38. Renato Afonso March 2, 2016 at 2:24 am

    I’m more interested in seeing how he starts next season. He has a lot of qiestion marks in his game and I want to see him work on that during the summer. I also want to see him play for a different coach. 39 as a rookie is great, obviously, but let’s see if he can sustain it.

    The Russel/Clarkson pairing still worries me a lot… We might have to trade one of them down the line…

  39. Well Renato next season is still a looong way but i see your point, what he does in the off season will be telling, but he is showing a lot of promise…

  40. So happy to see dlo have a real breakout game, he was on fire. I also loved seeing kobes smirk after he hit that last 3, he loved it. I like our young core, they have alot of promise as building blocks or assets going into the future.

  41. The Russell haters make me laugh. He was the clear 2nd pick and we were lucky to get him. Its too early to say he will be anything for sure but last nights game at age 19 without a huge supporting cast speaks volumes. He will continue to have ups and downs for the next couple of years but again Mitch made another great draft pick and if we can get one of the top two picks next year and sign a guy or two we will turn it around.

  42. @Renato, Clarkson & Russell seem to play well together on offense. I’m somewhat bothered by Clarkson’s defense. I had imagined having two big combo guards would improve defense by letting them switch more but, that hasn’t happened. It is something to watch but on the other hand I don’t doubt Clarkson’s work ethic and Russell is trending in the right direction.

    @Fern, from previous thread. I think you nailed it on the head as to why I think our F.O. would choose Simmons if given the choice. Ingram is skinny. I personally think Ingram would be the better choice though.

  43. Renato Afonso March 2, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Vasheed and Fern,

    If we get the 2nd pick we should be very happy. We get one of them and the choice will be made by some other team.

  44. Funny on the radio, Michael Thompson, during the game, said “it’s a mystery”, when byron put Huertas in for a white hot russell.

    The mystery of byron scott’s coaching strategy.

    Lakers up by 12 and nets almost caught up, sometime in the 3rd, in my opinion a attempted loss, but our roster is so full of holes what do you do. Wow, it is a mystery.

  45. It’s been a long slog of a season. I think most people know that DLo still has a lot to prove and is not a finished product. That said, we’re still looking for signs that indicate that he can become the player that justifies a #2 pick.

    Scoring 39 points is a good sign. Towns, Okafor, Porzingis, Mudiay haven’t scored that many in a game this season. Kyrie, CP3, Harden, Westbrook did not score that many points in their rookie seasons. Doesn’t mean that DLo will be become as good as those players, but it’s a positive indication. Interestingly, Curry scored 42 points in his first game as a rookie.

  46. Lakers next 15 games, 12 are at home

  47. – Regardless of the competition, very good game by DAR

    – Wonder how different this season may have looked if the FO didn’t handicap the team w/ only protecting their top 3 draft pick, and DAR was featured as much as KAT or Porzingas were on their teams?

    – How many more games does DAR have to have as he has recently had to convince fans the FO sabotaged his rookie season for a stroll down memory lane?

  48. dangelllllllloooooo, wow looked a lot like steph curry who he said he models his game after tonight! Byron scott did a good job helping cp3, helping darren collison, helping jason kidd, kyrie irving, I feel like he’s been unnecessarily tough on D’angelo, if the lakers were a quality playoff team and he were messing things up I’d say keep him on the bench, but he’s 19, he just threw up 40 on the nets, it doesn’t make Scott look good, but it’s nice to see the youngsters being let loose. Clarkson, Randle, D’Angelo are the core, Nance, Young, and Lou Williams are nice pieces. Going to have a lot to work with next year, with a draft pick this year we have an opportunity to move right into playoff contention and if we can get a perennial all star or super star this off season, it’s a lot to look forward to.

  49. @Renato, I think it is preferable to have your fate in your own hands. But boy would getting the second pick take the drama out of who to choose.

  50. I don’t think there would be this much drama in Cleveland if the warriors and spurs were not doing as well as they are.

  51. Lebron made his own bed. I seriously doubt he wins another championship. The Cavs have issues (chemistry/health) and Lebron has 50,000 regular season/playoff minutes on his body.

    This may be their be their last hurrah as the favorites to win the East. Toronto and Boston are not far behind and each have more flexibility to add talent this summer.

  52. Lakers next 15 games, 12 are at home

    Time for BS to implement some funky rotations to preserve the pick. No sense in throwing the opportunity to keep the pick away by winning meaningless end of season games.

    Of course winning last night took Kobe taking the game off (the team plays much better without him), a career night from Russell, the best game of the season from Hibbert and a struggling opponent. Safe to say those same stars won’t align too often down the stretch.

  53. Russel has a great game and Robert is no where to be found…. coincidence?

  54. Last Lakers rookie to get 39 was Elgin in 1959, who was the last Laker to win Rookie of the Year. Still time for D’Angelo to make a run for ROY, but Byron and stealth tanking won’t allow that.

  55. One of the big differences that I see watching DAR is the improved burst and balance he’s shown with the ball in his hands. I expected some improvement eventually (next year maybe, likely 2 years at 21/22). But that he’s showing it this year, got to give credit to him and Laker training staff. I’m sure he did strength work previously, but this is his first year with a pro staff. With the burst, hes getting into the paint for runners and it’s a threat so defenders are thinking about it. given him more space to get off that J.

  56. -Off topic: Chris Broussard has started a new ranking: a weekly NBA players power ranking (top 20). And there is a Laker connection on the list:

    Pretty nice list. Thoughts?

  57. “I said in preseason that I would be interested in how Russell looked over the last twenty games or so,” is damning yourself with faint praise given your commentating history. Go sit in the corner with Robert who wanted Okafor, and save a chair for Vasheed, who’s been proven dead wrong on Randle. You guys crack me up, man.

  58. Lou williams out 1-2 weeks

  59. Is it true that d’angelo russell’s 39 pts is the 4th highest for a rookie ever

  60. Maybe i heard that wrong, maybe they ment a lakers rookie

  61. Go sit in the corner with Robert who wanted Okafor, and save a chair for Vasheed, who’s been proven dead wrong on Randle.

    Like I have said a few times: the optimist types tend to be pretty confrontational, since their arguments are weak, the facts are against them, and Lakers fans are starved for good news. Also, of course, the draftees in this group have a long way to go before their final career arcs are determined. Russell v. Okafor as a thing is just getting started.

    So, Bruce, if you want to bring some specifics and some data that you think proves will have all the answers we need on Russell and Randle based on where we are now, bring them.

    Also, drafting is an art to a certain extent even for the professionals, so it is pretty generally not a great idea to brag about those or other predictions. I am wrong about stuff all the time and have admitted as much. But one thing that I and some others around here have not been wrong about is the arc of the team the last three years. So if we are going to talk trash about predictions, we can toss those into the mix.

  62. But one thing that I and some others around here have not been wrong about is the arc of the team the last three years.

    If you mean that the team is very bad and that management has made mistakes, well thank you for shining a light in the noonday sun. Go ahead and hang your hat on that. The army of front office defenders that you imagine exists here doesn’t. Never has. A cone shaped hat doesn’t stay on a peg though. . . .

  63. Most of the people who were positive about the FO and the team aren’t posting so much anymore. But even in this preseason there were plenty of people saying the team would surprise etc and that has been true the last three years. Also in dropping the insult on me you missed a key point I have repeated many times: seeing that the Lakers would be bad the last three years did not take big brains. The only people thinking that they woykd surprise were a subset of the fanbase.

    So Russell has a big game and you decide to lash out at me and Robert and Vasheed. Might make you feel better but doesn’t change where the team is the recent FO track record.

    As to DAR I backed taking him over Okafor but was a Mudiay fan. But like I said before the draft: the FO has more data than we do. So being right or wrong is only a big deal to emo types.

  64. Thinking that they would be good

  65. Didn’t see those specifics.

  66. I believe one of the main reasons why folks have left and don’t post here anymore is the reduncy of your arguments and obsession with the FO and trying to be right all the time even when you are wrong by trying to consede things like saying that you were for Russell before when you clearly weren’t.

    In any case I stopped coming here for awhile because I couldn’t stand your (rr, Robert, and other Bryon bots) “I think I’m the smartest guy in the room” attitude who really doesn’t know that much. Also and mainly because I want to enjoy as much of this season as I can considering how bad it is already and you are such a downer. Been hanging out in SSR for a bit and those guys are a lot more fun! Only came back to see the haters have to say after Russell’s big performance.

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