The Nets and Lakers face off the night before Thanksgiving

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

So the streak is over. The Nets almost blew their lead late in the fourth quarter, but they held on to beat the Raptors in Toronto to snap their five game losing streak. They're hoping to build on the win last night & start a winning streak. They're not good enough to be looking ahead, so the team ought to be ready for this one. The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Nets, and after this game they start a back-to-back that will take them to Houston and Memphis.

Entering the Barclays Center will be the Los Angeles Lakers. They ended a streak last night as well, although for them, their three game winning streak was snapped last night in Washington. Like the Nets, they played a close game and are on the second night of a back to back. For a team that hasn't had Kobe Bryant play since last April (although he is on the comeback trail) and Steve Nash dealing with a back injury, they're doing pretty good for themselves. In a loaded Western Conference, they're in the middle of the pack. They close out their three game trip on Friday in Detroit & then they go back to the West Coast.

The season so far:

What's been happening with these teams? Let's check the numbers:

2013-2014

Brooklyn

Los Angeles Lakers

Record

4-10 7-8

Pace

95.16 100.24

Offensive Efficiency

99.4 100.3

Defensive Efficiency

106.3 102.5

Offensive Rebounding percentage

24.7 22.6

Turnover rate

16 15.3

Assist rate

15.5 18

Rebound rate

48.8 48.6

Free throw rate

32.5 22.2

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.6 49.9

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50 49.5

Still no word on the status of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, or Jason Terry. Billy King alluded to it during his interview with Sarah Kustok, and lately the offense has been running through Joe Johnson. He's hit ten three pointers in the last two games and will look to continue to carry the offensive load while Lopez is still out. Blatche was able to dominate Toronto as he was able to do damage on the inside. Blatche has a tendency to get jump shot happy on occasion so I'm hoping Jason Kidd has told him to limit the jumpers he takes.

One thing that is true of a Mike D'Antoni team is that they will play at a very fast pace. And even with Steve Nash out of action, they're fourth in pace at 100 possessions a game. Without a dominant offensive player like Kobe, the Lakers have looked to spread the ball around. They're third in team assist rate and have done a little better job of maintaining possession of the ball as compared to last year (although assist rate doesn't correlate to a high offensive efficiency). Of course, the drawback of not having Bryant playing is that the Lakers don't have a player that will get to the free throw line as often as Kobe did. In Bryant's place, the Lakers bench has stepped up to fill the void. Our old friend Jordan Farmar, Swaggy P (AKA Nick Young) and Xavier Henry have done a very good job of providing scoring punch off Los Angeles' bench. They, in addition to Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson in the starting five have made a killing from behind the arc. LA is fourth in three pointers attempted and three point efficiency this year, and when Kobe comes back, that trend should continue.

Player to watch: Pau Gasol

After a disastrous, injury plagued year playing alongside Dwight Howard, the big guy is starting to come back around. He's been shooting 51 percent from the field over the last four games and is coming off a 17 point, 8 assist, 6 rebound game in D.C. The offense will run through him until Kobe returns, and although he has a lot of mileage, on him, he is skilled and intelligent enough to be a productive option on offense. There's still the belief that Pau will be traded, but the big guy is hoping to sign an extension with the Lakers. For more on Pau, here's Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark:

We've always known that Pau had the skill to succeed, but until the last few games, he didn't seem all that interested or capable of displaying that skill, but now we're seeing the full Pau Gasol repertoire - the outside shot is falling, and more importantly, the post moves are being stacked against each other one after another. He's faking and countering and going up and under ... he's doing it all, and as it always is when he manages it, it's a beautiful thing to watch.

He and Jordan Hill should have some success against the frontcourt duo of Kevin Garnett and Blatche. Although KG & Blatche are coming off good games in Toronto, the duo has not played well for most of this month.

From the Vault:


Head on back to 1996 and look back at Magic Johnson's return for the Lakers. Around last summer during the whole "Dream Team vs. Team USA 2012" discussion, I went back and looked up his numbers, and they're pretty damn good for a guy who hadn't played basketball consistently since 1992.

More reading: Silver Screen and Roll

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