Everything's going wrong. The Brooklyn Nets are still winless after losing to the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night in the ATL. They're at the bottom of the East and things are starting to go South. This is the first night of a back-to-back. Night two (and the first game of a four game road trip) is in Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Coming into town will be the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is drastically different from last season, but they've gotten off to a slow start. They're 0-4 and last played on Tuesday evening when they lost at home to the Denver Nuggets. This is the first of a five game road trip that will keep them in town to play the Knicks on Sunday, head to Florida for a back-to-back with the Heat and Magic, and then wraps up on Friday night in Dallas.
We hear that the Nets and representatives of the D-League will share more information on the Long Island Nets prior to the game.
Nothing doing for the Nets other than the two long-term injuries to Chris McCullough (torn ACL recovery) and Willie Reed (thumb)..
The Lakers are healthy.
Whether you're in a "bridge year" or in a full rebuilding program, it helps to play talented youngsters. It gives you a chance to see what they can do as well as give your team a shot of energy. D'Angelo Russell was taken second overall in this year's draft and has shown some flashes of All Star potential. Surprisingly, he didn't see the court in the fourth quarter on Tuesday and had no idea why. Byron Scott was asked about that, and after mentioning the usual about always trying to win, said this:
"I’m not always thinking about necessarily developing them. I’m always thinking about trying to win. I’m always thinking about trying to win. The development part comes secondary to that, but in practice and everything is where you really work on the development part."
Yeah, that's not what you wanna hear from the guy tasked with guiding a young team through a long season. On the other side, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is someone that should see some more minutes. It seems that every time he comes onto the court, the Nets' play dramatically picks up and they go on a nice run. Unfortunately for RHJ, he only played three minutes in the second half on Wednesday night. Going forward, Lionel Hollins should work to get him more minutes as he's one of their best reserves and a player that is expected to contribute over the next couple of years.
Even with the bad start, the Lakers do have some nice players they can build around. Jordan Clarkson was a member of the All Rookie team last year and just tied his career high in points on Tuesday. After declining to trade him for DeMarcus Cousins over the summer, Julius Randle has shown some flashes of potential even if the numbers aren't there four games in. Randle's got a good handle for his size, finishes well at the rim, and won't back down from Kevin Garnett and other established players in the league.
Brook Lopez led the team in scoring again, but he wasn't much of a factor in the fourth quarter. Again. Brook only took one field goal attempt and while Lionel Hollins gave credit to the Hawks defense, the players on the court have to do a better job of keeping Lopez involved. The big guy will be facing a familiar foe in Roy Hibbert. Hibbert was brought over after his run in Indiana ended on a sour note. His job tonight will be to deny Lopez position on the inside. When Lopez does take shots from the low post, he's shooting a remarkable 88 percent. He's always been able to score in a variety of ways and his teammates have to keep him involved throughout the game.
Player to watch: Kobe Bryant
It's not looking good for the future Hall of Famer. Bryant is back from the season ending shoulder injury he suffered last season, but his game hasn't come with him. He's averaging around 16 points a night in 28 minutes per game, but is only shooting 32 percent from the field and is taking some spectacularly bad shots. Making matters worse, he's taking almost NINE three pointers a game and shooting 20 percent. Before the year started, I wrote the following for Slant News:
Kobe was most effective getting to the rim and in the low post. Bryant isn't a great three point shooter and hasn't shot close to league average (around 34 percent) from deep since 2010, and by playing closer to the basket, he can create better looks for himself and increase his chances of getting to the free throw line. Keeping Bryant close to the basket will increase his offensive efficiency and possibly reserve some energy he can use on the defensive end.
Yeah, they're making a liar out of me so far. Bryant is still out here throwing up shots like it's 2005 and Scott isn't reining him in. It might get worse before it gets better in Los Angeles.
Bryant has a lot of miles on his legs, and the same could be said for Joe Johnson. Johnson's had a terrible start to the season as he's shot under 40 percent in four of the five games so far this year. The Nets expect him to be the second scoring option after Lopez, but it hasn't worked out yet. Johnson and Bryant probably won't be guarding one another, but they're both going to need to play drastically better for their teams to finally get into the win column. They're both Top Ten among active players in minutes played and in the final years of their current contracts. There are questions about how effective they'll be as the season goes on, so these games early on take on an added importance for them both.
From the Vault
If you've been paying attention to the news over the past, then you know that former Laker Lamar Odom has been dealing with a lot of problems. We're not gonna focus on the negative here, so instead, we're gonna head back to the good days of April 2008 and watch a great matchup between LO and Dirk Nowitzki.
More reading: Silver Screen and Roll
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes -- Brooklyn Nets
- Los Angeles Game Notes -- Los Angeles Lakers
- Lakers-Nets Preview - Taylor Bechtold - STATS LLC
- Nets, Joe Johnson still searching for success - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Knicks, Nets, Lakers have fallen on hard times of late - Steve Popper - The Record
- Nets need to lean on Hollis-Jefferson - Greg Hrinya - Examiner
- In Brooklyn, Nets’ Season Already Slipping Away - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Joe Johnson needs to take some of Nets' scoring load off Brook Lopez - Colin Stephenson - Newsday
- Joe Johnson’s shot has deserted him, but there’s good news - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
Can the Nets beat the Lakers? - Sean Flattery - The Brooklyn Game
- Desperate times for winless Nets - John Torenli - Brooklyn Daily Eagle
- Eight of the worst performances of Kobe Bryant's career - Scott Chiusano - New York Daily News
- It’s an emotional time for Nets’ Wayne Ellington - Mark Medina - Los Angeles Daily News
- Up next for the Lakers: at Brooklyn on Friday - Broderick Turner - Los Angeles Times
Byron Scott losing patience with developing Lakers - Bill Oram - Orange County Register