And then there were eight.
The Brooklyn Nets entered Saturday night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers having won three of their four Summer League games in Las Vegas, most recently a win against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the Vegas playoffs.
It was onto Lonzo Ball and the Lakers in the quarter finals – the most coveted team of the Summer League tournament. The Nets controlled the tempo in the first half but struggled in the second half where they were outscored 60-43.
Los Angeles sent them home with a final score of 115-106.
The question heading into tonight: who would cover Lonzo Ball? Although it changed at times, Spencer Dinwiddie handled the defensive assignment for most of the night. Ball filled the stat sheet but shot just 4-of-12 from the field. Dinwiddie, on the other hand, had his best game of the summer league.
The first half set the tempo for the rest of the game. It was a fast-paced start that saw the Nets drop 37 points in the first quarter and 63 in the half. They were dominant on the offensive end, but struggled to cover the perimeter as Los Angeles nailed seven three-pointers to keep them within single digits at halftime.
Not only did Dinwiddie have the toughest defensive assignment of the night, but he also played a vital part in Brooklyn’s offense. He capped of a 16-point half with a buzzer-beating three-pointer. He and Caris LeVert (15 points) had Brooklyn shooting at an efficient 56 percent clip entering the second half.
Early in the third quarter, Isaiah Whitehead tweaked his knee and headed for the bench without assistance. It was a quick scare but he did return to action.
Then, the Lakers outscored the Nets 28-18 in the third quarter and gained a two-point lead heading into the fourth. The Nets led by eight at half but struggled on the defensive end all night. That’s where the game changed. Los Angeles carried the momentum and found a 10-point lead early in the fourth.
The Nets chipped away and trailed by two with three minutes remaining, 103-101. The Lakers answered with an 8-2 run as Kyle Kuzma (26 points) put home the dagger three with one minute remaining. Vander Blue led all scorers with 27 points, while Lonzo Ball finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. (Kuzma was part of the Nets trade with the Lakers, taken with the 27th pick included in the deal.)
The Nets committed eight turnovers in the second half with just six assists. Their offense covered up their putrid defense for most of the night, but they were exposed in the second half when the Lakers clamped down. The Lakers shot 14-of-26 from deep and outscored Brooklyn 60-43 in the second half.
LeVert led the Nets with 23 points. Dinwiddie had a solid game with 22 points, while Whitehead chipped in 15. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also chipped in 15 to go along with 13 rebounds. Archie Goodwin, the only other player that was on the Nets roster last year, capped off his Summer League with a 2-of-12 performance.
The Lakers will move onto the semifinal round, while the Nets will head back home finishing Vegas SL with a 3-2 record.
After the game, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN interviewed Kenny Atkinson about what he liked about the game...
Down the stretch, Kenny Atkinson had five guys who can handle ball on the floor. Nets gave Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert plenty of opportunities to handle the ball, create and distribute. Look for more of this from multiple guys this season. "That's eventually the way we would love to [play], in a perfect world where multiple ball-handlers, different guys are bringing it up," Atkinson said. "Hopefully we will see that in the regular season, that we are sharing the ball and it will not be one guy dominating the ball. That is not the way we want to play."
Nets basketball was fun while it lasted. Now, it’s back to more offseason fun.
- Box Score: Los Angeles Lakers 115, Brooklyn Nets 106 - NBA.com
- Highlights: Los Angeles Lakers 115, Brooklyn Nets 106 (Video) - NBA.com
- Highlights: Caris LeVert vs. Lakers (Video) - NBA.com
- Ball: This win was a team effort (Video) - NBA.com
- Whitehead no-look pass to RHJ (Video) - NBA.com
- Dinwiddie from downtown (Video) - NBA.com
- Dinwiddie beats the buzzer (Video) - NBA.com
- Dinwiddie Dunk (Video) - NBA.com
- Kuzma fakes and finishes (Video) - NBA.com
- Caruso throws it down (Video) - NBA.com
- Whitehead exits the game (Video) - NBA.com
- Walton: Ball is unselfish (Video) - NBA.com
- Whitehead spin cycle (Video) - NBA.com
- Ball finds Kuzma (Video) - NBA.com
- Ball lays it in (Video) - NBA.com
- Philly Area Natives Tahjere McCall, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Bond on Nets' Summer League Team - Jessica Camerato - Comcast Sports Net