I had a strong urge to simply have this post be entirely empty, only leaving the title as the lone thing you would read. Really, the title sums up my position tidily and offering anything more than that is probably superfluous. That said, I’m a man of the people; I’m the proletariat, not the potentate.
In reality, we saw this loss coming. In my game preview I wrote the following:
I’ve no clue how this game will go, honestly. In some ways, the Lakers are due for a letdown. They just beat the Bucks and the Clippers in back to back games. The Nets are a good, but not great team, who have key players out. The game is in Los Angeles. LeBron is expected to play, but is currently listed as questionable with a sore groin. Could I see a banged up LeBron taking this game easy and the Lakers resting their laurels after two big wins? Of course I can. I’ve been a Lakers fan for decades. I know how this goes.
I also wrote that I could see the Lakers taking this game seriously and…they kind of did??!! Early on, the Lakers were dialed in defensively and playing smart offense. They moved the ball well on one end, and took on the challenge of containing the Nets scorers on the other. They looked ready to play and it was quite impressive when put into the context of what I wrote above.
Then, you know, they slowly started to loosen their grip on the rope. A missed rotation here, some lack of attentiveness on the weakside there. A lazy pass turned into two, a shaky handle turned into a fumbled ball, a quick 3 was taken in an attempt to get back what the Nets just did to them.
The Lakers were up, then they trailed, then they were up again, and then the Nets rallied to take control themselves. It all seemed so normal, but underlying it all was a simple truth: the Nets were quicker to the ball, more productive with their activity, and the terms of engagement shifted in their direction.
The Lakers did battle back and the game hung in the balance late. LeBron exerted his force, AD hit some shots, the defense tightened. The game turned on two possessions, though. On the Nets final offensive possession, Dinwiddie isolated and scored. On the Lakers final possession, LeBron missed a layup and then, after the team recovered the offensive rebound, a final play was setup for LeBron to drive, which resulted in a kick out pass to AD. Davis had a wide open 3 that would have won the game. It was an inch or two long and rimmed out.
Thus is life. The Lakers lost to the Nets. Don’t freak out.
If I were to pinpoint a few stats that I think mattered most:
- In a game the Lakers lost by 2, they took 11 fewer FT’s than the Nets — 12 for the Lakers, 23 for Brooklyn. Of the Lakers 12 FT’s, they only hit 7. That’s bad. The worst culprit was LeBron who went 1-5.
- The Nets outscored the Lakers 42-36 in the paint. The Lakers rank 2nd in the league in this stat, normally scoring 53.2 points there per game. 17 points under their average is not great, even if the Nets are good at protecting the rim and packing the paint.
- The Lakers compensated their lack of paint scoring by shooting more 3’s. Of their 40 attempts from deep, 15 of them fell. That’s not a bad percentage in the big picture (37.5%), but when you look at all the wide open 3’s the Lakers missed this game, it felt like the team wasted too many opportunities to take advantage of the Nets’ defensive strategy.
More went into this loss, for sure. But, if one or two of those things turn in the Lakers favor, they almost certainly win. Credit the Nets for their efforts in this one, though. As much as it would be easy to point to where the Lakers beat themselves, Brooklyn played hard and well enough to win. And, at the end of the day, they did.
The Rockets are up on Thursday.