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Shorthanded Nets play host to shorthanded Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Back on track. The Brooklyn Nets got a primetime showing on Saturday night at home against the crosstown New York Knicks. The Nets got up by a bunch early and made critical plays late to beat the Knicks once again. They’ve now won nine straight games against their crosstown neighbors. That’s the good stuff.

This is gonna sound weird, but I really don’t know what to make of the Los Angeles Lakers. They are currently 13th in the Western Conference standings. However, they’re only a few games from catching the fourth seeded Los Angeles Clippers. This is the second night of a five-game road trip. They got screwed over by the referees in the final seconds of regulation and wound up losing to the Boston Celtics in overtime. The league immediately admitted they blew it, but that’s cold comfort to a team fighting for their playoff lives.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for us. NBATV for everybody else. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m. ET.


No Kevin Durant. TJ Warren missed Saturday’s game due to a left shin contusion. He’s listed as doubtful. Ben Simmons missed the game due to left knee soreness. He’s listed as questionable.

Austin Reaves is out and will be reevaluated on Thursday. Anthony Davis is out with right foot injury management. LeBron James is out with left ankle soreness. Chances are they’ll be on the court Tuesday night at MSG vs. the Knicks. Those are the breaks unfortunately.

The game

The Lakers won the first game in November.

Behold, the greatest reaction to a horrendous call in NBA history...

Salute to Patrick Beverley, camera man.

ICYMI, the refs even apologized!

The Lakers made a pretty great pickup the other day. They acquired Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards for Kendrick Nunn and second round draft picks. It was a nice acquisition for LA and Jacob Rude of Silver Screen and Roll explained the benefit of this deal for the purple and gold:

In the short term, it gives the Lakers a player that is a wing and that alone is not something the roster has had really since Kyle Kuzma was dealt. Players like Trevor Ariza and Carmelo Anthony were supposed to be those types of players but did not fit the billing. Long-term, it gives them a player they feel could be part of the franchise moving forward.

Hachimura is a player that is a risk, hence why he didn’t cost the Lakers much. But given that the team gave up a player that wasn’t going to be here long-term and is easily replaceable and second round picks that the franchise has shown they can purchase if necessary, it’s not a particularly high price.

He turns 25 years old next week and is a good building block for this franchise going forward.

One tie that binds Lakers fans and Nets fans is their HATRED of three-guard lineups. Darvin Ham keeps running those lineups out there, and those lineups keep getting crushed. Even without Reaves in the lineup, the Lakers have quality young wings like Max Christie and Troy Brown Jr that would address some of their size woes. As they move closer to the trading deadline, we’ll see if they can get some more perimeter help.

In WNBA free agency news, teams will officially be able to sign free agents starting on February 1. The New York Liberty are closing in on signing superstar forward, Breanna Stewart. The Los Angeles Sparks will lose Brittney Sykes to the Washington Mystics. LA is under new management with Curt Miller as head coach and Karen Bryant as General Manager. LA has reshaped their roster already as they traded for Dearica Hamby from the Las Vegas Aces and Jasmine Thomas from the Connecticut Sun. LA is shaping up to be radically different in 2023, and the same can be said for NY.

Three-point shooting will probably determine the course of this game. The teams are 23rd and 24th in 3-point attempts per game, but the Nets are dramatically better from deep. Brooklyn is second in 3 point efficiency while Los Angeles is at 24th. The Nets obliterated the Knicks from deep with 22 threes, and if they’re able to maintain that rhythm, they’ll beat a shorthanded Lakers team.

Joe Harris has done well to step in Durant’s absence. In the nine games without KD, Harris is averaging around 11 points a night on 55 percent shooting from the field and 49 percent from three point range. When the Nets are attacking and forcing the issue, Harris can space out and make teams pay for defensive lapses

That’s what the Nets need every time out. With KD and Warren out, Harris will have even more responsibility on his shoulders. Let’s see if he’s able to keep the rhythm going.

Nic Claxton will look to put together one more excellent game. The big fella had another All Star caliber game with 13 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks in 34 minutes. He went a perfect 6-6 from the field and is continuing to blossom into a star. He won’t have to deal with Anthony Davis, but Thomas Bryant will be an interesting matchup. TB has been a revelation in Davis’ absence and he has a soft touch on his jumper. His play gives Los Angeles some more size to work with, and it’ll be interesting to see what the lineups look like going forward once everyone is back healthy.

Player to watch: Russell Westbrook

The motor’s still there. Russ is now coming off the bench and he still plays with an incredible amount of energy. He’s averaging around 16 points, eight assists, and six rebounds a night. His shot hasn’t been there, as his .418/.282/.667 shooting splits can attest to. There have been games where he’s made some truly bad plays that have destroyed the rhythm the Lakers had been building. With James and Davis out, more will fall on his shoulders and they’re going to need him to play an excellent game and keep everything running well.

If the game is close late, it’s Kyrie Irving time. Irving was the man of the hour on Saturday as his 21 fourth quarter points kept the Knicks at bay. The Nets have put a lot on his shoulders with Durant out, and he’s met the moment in full. Without Davis, the Lakers are without one of the best rim protectors in the sport.

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