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Kyrie Irving tossed as Nets suffer blowout loss to Lakers, 126-101

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It was a loss with plenty of emotions and storylines attached to it. But in the end, it was a loss. One game, but easily the worst loss of the season.

“I thought they [Lakers] were the aggressor. They were more physical. They hit first and we didn’t match their physicality and competitive fire. This is what you get. A team that was missing a bunch of guys, guys get an opportunity, their eyes light up and they came out and played harder than us,” Nash said on the loss. “They played more physical than us and it’s a great lesson for us.”

In a game that started without James Harden, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Nets suffered a blowout loss, losing to the Lakers, 126-101, and saw Kyrie Irving get the first ejection of his career with the Nets up four in the third.

Durant spoke about the ejection postgame noting how the officials control the game and it’s on them to make those decisions.

“Nope. No thoughts on that. They control the game and it’s on them to make those types of calls,” Durant said. “It doesn’t matter if we agree with it or not.”

Irving, who scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes, was ejected in the third quarter for jawing with Dennis Schroder, who finished with 19 points in 20 minutes. Schroeder was also ejected.

“I don’t really know what happened. I’m not sure what was said or what triggered it,” Nash said on the ejections. “I wish I had more insight but just walked off the floor and addressed the team. (I) haven’t got to hear what happened at all.”

The ejections marked the first for both guards but Irving’s ejection was a tougher pill to swallow.

At the time of the ejection, the Lakers were nursing a four-point lead with 9:41 remaining in the third and following the ejection, Brooklyn struggled to generate offense with Durant still on a minutes restriction. Los Angeles took full advantage, forging a 20+ lead in the fourth. It was only the Nets second 20+ point loss of the season, the other last month to the Jazz. In that one, none of the “Big Three” made a court appearance.

Durant, who started for the Nets on a minutes restriction, had a strong showing finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 24 minutes of play. When asked whether Nash considered pulling Durant when the deficit was too much to overcome, the Nets head coach says he was left out to help himself adapt to his usual workload progressively.

“That’s the tricky part. He needs to play a certain amount of minutes to adapt and to build up to playing to his customary rotation and minutes,” Nash said on Durant’s minutes. “While it’s not ideal sometimes when were down fairly big, we had to leave him out a few more minutes just because we want him to get to game shape and to be able to acclimate back to playing 30+ minutes a night.”

The Nets superstar shot 8-of-17 from the field and 1-of-4 from deep in the loss. However, for the second straight game, KD showed some rust handling the ball, racking up eight turnovers. Against the Pelicans, he had six.

“That’s all on me. All that stuff is on me. I can’t put that on anyone else,” Durant said on his eight turnovers. “I got to be better.”

In his general assessment of the game, KD talked about how the Lakers simply took charge early and didn’t let up.

“They hit us in the mouth early, and we were fighting uphill the whole game,” Durant said. “Then, they got hot. You come in the game, guys who haven’t played as much get more opportunities and they’re playing free and they came out and hit us in the mouth. … They’re the champs. You’ve got to respect it.”

Also, as he did vs. New Orleans, Durant had an awesome dunk that caused his mom, Wanda Pratt, to stand up and cheer...

LaMarcus Aldridge put on a good offensive performance of 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field in 23 minutes but the 6’11” big was tested defending Andre Drummond, who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes. At one point, after bullying Aldridge down low, Drummond made a hand gesture indicating the Nets big was “too small.”

After the game, Aldridge took responsibility for the loss.

“Just got to do a better job of trying to set the tone better. It starts with me. I started out kind of passive tonight and I think that was kind of contagious for everyone else,” he said. The Nets were outscored by 15 points in Aldridge’s 22 minutes on the floor.

“I have to watch film,” Aldridge says. “I can’t get past how bad I was tonight defensively. Definitely have to watch the tape, and try to be better on fronts, all parts or whatever. But I’m gonna definitely gonna do a better job of trying to set the tone and just playing better defense. Way too passive tonight.”

Chris Chiozza served as a spark for the dismantled Nets scoring five points in 16 minutes of play off the bench. Nic Claxton had seven points and five rebounds in 17 minutes, but on more than on occasion, Shroeder got past him and scored. Meanwhile, Joe Harris had his worst performance not just this season for a while. He finished 0-of-4 from deep and 2-of-8 overall, scoring only six points in 29 minutes.

The Nets drop to 36-17 on the season with the loss while the Lakers avoid the season sweep and improve to 33-20.

While the ejection was the turning point in the contest, the Nets failed to come out aggressive - a common theme that has hurt Brooklyn all season. The Lakers opened the contest with a quick 18-7 run hitting seven of their first eight shots. Los Angeles forced Brooklyn to earn their shots early and with 7:30 remaining, Steve Nash called his first timeout down 11.

It was evident that Nash and the coaching staff wanted to apply for pressure on Drummond, who scored seven of Los Angeles’ 33 first quarter points. Brooklyn orchestrated multiple swarms down low on the Lakers big man who used his overwhelming size to get to the rim. On the offensive end, the Nets — led by Irving -- began to hit their shots and cut into the deficit but Brooklyn’s defense didn’t stay strong long.

The Nets got a good boost from their bench in the first, scoring 10 of their 25 first quarter points but struggled to shoot the three-ball going 3-of-10 and on the boards (13-8). Although the boost from the bench, Brooklyn entered the second down 33-25 but as history shows, the Nets entered the potential NBA Finals preview 16-13 on the season when trailing after one.

The Lakers continued to pick apart the Nets switching defense. Schroder targeted Claxton on switches and capitalized on a series of drives resulting in his great start. The Nets began to clean up their sloppy play and looked more comfortable on the floor.

With 5:14 remaining, Irving took a hard elbow to the jaw from Markieff Morris and after the officials went to the monitors to review, the foul was upgraded to a flagrant 1. Brooklyn went on a 17-3 run and took their first lead of the game off a thunderous Durant slam over Drummond with 3:32 remaining.

The Nets capped off their late resurgence trailing 61-58 at the half. The Nets duo of Durant and Irving combined for 29 of Brooklyn’s 58 points. Aldridge played well offensively contributing 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field in 15 minutes. Brooklyn concluded the second quarter shooting 53.8 percent overall and 41.7 percent from deep. Although playing comfortable in the final minutes of the second, the Nets were careless with turnovers (nine) resulting in 10 points for LA.

On the other side, the Nets struggled to defend Schroder, who was hobbling in the second. The aggressive Schroder led the Lakers with 19 points (season-high) on 70 percent shooting to go along with four assists.

Brooklyn suffered a major blow with 9:41 remaining in the third. Irving was jawing with Schroder and following double technicals, the two continued their testy chatter which resulted in a double ejection. As he exited, Irving took off his jersey and tossed it several rows up to an excited fan.

Following the ejection, the Nets struggled to generate offense with Irving in the locker room and Durant on a minutes restriction. The Lakers quickly ballooned the lead to 17. Finally with 4:06 remaining, Nash called a timeout to regroup. It didn’t work.

Brooklyn struggled to generate offense despite finding good looks late in the third with Irving tossed and Durant seeing limited minutes due to his minutes restriction. The Nets entered the final 12 minutes of play trailing 92-77.

The Lakers continued their offensive onslaught to open the fourth growing their lead to 22 - their biggest lead of the game and didn’t look back. Nash and the Nets unleashed the bench with 5:22 remaining and put up a fight but the deficit was too much to overcome, losing by 25 points.

The Film Room

Sheesh, these Lakers sure are tough, aren’t they?

At their best, the Nets are a veteran-laden team whipping ball around the perimeter, passing up good shots for great shots, great shots for even better ones. That’s the beauty of playing with experienced players; there’s no need for hero-ball when a better shot is within the realm of possibilities. This would probably be a great spot for a clip, so, um, here! Feast your eyes.

Aaaaand at their worst, the Nets are unable to even get the ball across mid-court, especially with resident basketball caretaker Kyrie Irving off the floor. The Nets turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 19 times in the game. They’re been incredibly careful with the basketball as of late, ranking 6th in turnovers over the last month with just 12.1 per game. This performance was pretty uncharacteristic in that sense, all because of Los Angeles’ ball pressure.

It’s a shame neither of these teams were at full strength. Duh. But credit to Lakers coach Frank Vogel. His guys compete. That’s that championship DNA coming through.

NBA Official Pool Report on Kyrie Irving - Dennis Schroder ejections in third quarter

Following the loss to the Lakers, NBA Official released the pool report conducted by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press with crew chief Zach Zarba about the ejections of Kyrie Irving and Dennis Schroder.

According to the pool report, Irving and Schroder were both assessed the first technicals for verbal taunting and needing to be separated. In terms of the ejections, both are different rulings.

For Irving, he continued to “yell” at Schroder and was issued his second technical, resulting in the ejection. In Schroder’s case, he was tossed for waving goodbye in a “taunting manner.”

Below is the official NBA pool report.

No DeAndre Jordan again

Despite the way Andre Drummond manhandled LaMarcus Aldridge, Steve Nash didn’t call on DeAndre Jordan for the fifth straight game. Aldridge played 23 minutes, Claxton 15 minutes and Jeff Green 26. Reggie Perry, in garbage time, played five minutes. But as Brian Lewis reported, there have been no buyout talks.

“We have four, five centers so you can’t play necessarily everyone,” said Steve Nash about DeAndre’s dwindling role. “I’d love to find time to give him an opportunity again, but right now we’re trying to find out where LaMarcus and Blake are at and even get Nic more minutes. So something’s gotta give. I wish I could give everyone all the minutes that they desire but it’s just impossible.”

Alize Johnson 10-day deal expires

Alize Johnson’s second 10-day contract expired Saturday night and so, at least for the time being, the Nets have an open roster spot. The Nets could, as they did last season with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, sign Johnson to a standard deal, perhaps covering the rest of this season and next. In TLC’s case, the Nets signed him to two-year vets minimum deal, the second non-guaranteed. That option would be open in Johnson’s case this year and if the Nets wanted to sign him for more than two years, they could in theory dip into their taxpayers MLE and sign him for three years.

While the buyout deadline passed Friday, there’s no effect on Johnson’s situation. If resigned, he’d be eligible for the post-season. Also, the Nets could sign another player who had been cut before Friday and he too would be eligible for post-season.

As Sponge Bob might say...

Per Will Hanley.

What’s next

The Nets will return back to action when the team travels to Minnesota to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, April 12. The game is set to tip at 8:00 PM ET.

For a different perspective, check out the great Silver Screen and Roll - our sister site covering the Los Angeles Lakers.