The Brooklyn Nets were more consistent this Monday than some irregular Los Angeles Lakers (121-104) and took a game that neither LeBron James nor Kevin Durant played, that their faces have not been seen on the field for more than four years.
Christmas Day 2018 was the last time LeBron and Durant They were measured in an official NBA meeting.
Since then, everything has been frustrated duels due to the injury of one, the inconvenience of the other or the physical problems of both (as it was on this occasion).
In addition to the absence of LeBron (just 117 points away from becoming the top scorer in league history), The Lakers also did not count as a precaution with Anthony Davis, who returned last week after more than a month injured.
With those two important casualties and the controversial loss in Boston still stinging, the Angelenos showed two very different faces in Brooklyn: one somber in the first half and another energetic -and at times captivating- in the third period.
Thus, the Lakers, who lost 19 points in the second quarter, recovered to +7 in the third, but in the last twelve minutes they lacked the necessary poise and let slip what would have been a great comeback.
Kyrie Irving (26 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists), Cam Thomas (21 points, 11 of them in the fourth quarter) and Patty Mills (21 points) they led the Nets (31-19) with 66 points from their bench.
On the Lakers, Russell Westbrook (17 points on 5-of-15 shooting, 10 rebounds and 8 assists) overtook Gary Payton to become the tenth player with the most assists in history.
Thomas Bryant (18 points and 9 rebounds) and Rui Hachimura (16 points) also stood out in a Lakers (23-28) who have lost three of their last four games.
The Lakers did not take long to notice the absences.
With terrifying accuracy, Darvin Ham’s team reached the middle of the first quarter with a dismal 3 of 13 shooting from the field and very few ideas in attack (19-6).
Also, Patrick Beverley earned a technical for protesting and finished off a really thick start by the Angels.
While Irving and Royce O’Neale scored fluently for the New Yorkers, the Lakers went five minutes without scoring until Westbrook asked for the floor with two consecutive three-pointers.
The point guard was eager with 9 points, but the Lakers signed their lowest score in a first quarter so far this season (29-16).
Yuta Watanabe and Mills revved up Brooklyn’s second unit, which touched +20 in the second quarter.
It seemed that those in purple and gold were one side against giving up, but a good finish in the first half, with Bryant doing damage in the paint, allowed them to reach the break alive (58-46).
The eleven Nets players Jacque Vaughn used went to the locker room having scored.
The little reaction before the break was just an appetizer of what the Lakers displayed at the restart.
With a fantastic partial start of 0-14, crowned with an additional three pointer from Dennis Schroderthe Lakers turned the score around in a flash in front of a stunned Nets (58-60 with 8.47 left).
Ham strongly strengthened his team’s defense while in attack the centers Bryant (10 points) and Wenyen Gabriel (9 consecutive points) stood out.
Irving was the only one who escaped the Brooklyn paralysis but the Lakers ran out of gas in the last two minutes, so much so that the Nets resurrected with a 10-0 run to face the last quarter ahead (85-82).
Two triples from the locals set off the alarms for the Lakers, who little by little moved away from the glow of their great third period (95-85 with 9:30 to go).
In addition, Thomas exploded in the denouement with 11 points and the Nets, with Irving signing the sentence, navigated the last quarter with more calm than expected against a heartbroken Lakers.