The Lakers (19-31) face off against the Brooklyn Nets (19-33) tonight in a battle for twenty wins. The Lakers are coming off two particularly bad losses. The Nets won their last game after dropping four straight to enter February. Lonzo Ball has been ruled out for the next two games so expect the Tyler Ennis starting point guard experiment to continue.
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Brooklyn is 21st in Defensive Efficiency and 25th in Offensive Efficiency. They finds themselves in much the same situation as the Lakers, struggling to win 30 games. D’Angelo Russell has only played 18 games this season and is averaging 16.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. With the season ending loss of Jeremy Lin, Spencer Dinwiddie has played solid minutes as a tall point guard averaging 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists.
This will be the first game back to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez (11.6/3.8/1.5). Lopez has seen his minutes decline since the start of the season. For at least this game, expect that trend to reverse. Strategy aside, most respected veterans are allowed a revenge game and Luke has shown respect for these unwritten rules in the past.
Lopez was visibly frustrated after only getting 9 minutes in the last game, I would expect him to get at least 20-25 minutes tonight. There is a 100% chance of a Lopez 35 foot heat check shot at some point in this game.
The trade deadline is casting a dark shadow over this team right as the schedule has taken an easier turn. The Lakers can use a win and this one against the Nets is very winnable. Tyler Ennis will probably get torched by Russell, which should make Twitter near unreadable by 5:15pst tonight. The first 8 minutes of each half is really going to tell us a lot about how this game is going to go for the Lakers.
A slow start could send this one off the rails similar to the Magic game. Likewise, the Laker mindset coming out of the half will speak to how the team is feeling heading into the All Star Break. Right now every player is tired, look for the young guys to come out and play hard knowing they have a week off coming up in two weeks.
Where you can watch: 4:30pm PST start time on Spectrum Sportsnet