clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 Takeaways from Brooklyn Nets Gutsy Win vs Los Angeles Lakers

Winning is fun, much more than losing and the Nets had a LOT of fun in LA.

Whether they’re here to stay or not remains to be seen, but the Brooklyn Nets returned last night.

After their competitive, 13-10 team took a hiatus for roughly a month, their vacation days ran out yesterday ironically in sunny Los Angeles. With solid defense, rim pressure, transition opportunities, and efficient shooting from deep to the table, we got the Nets of old in a 130-112 win over the Lakers.

Cam Thomas poured in 33 points off the bench while shooting 13-of-18 from the field. It wasn’t home cooking, but certainly along those lines, as he torched the team he grew up rooting for. Nic Claxton dueled with Anthony Davis. The real Spencer Dinwiddie showed up as well.

Watching last night’s game was like seeing an old friend for the first time in years. You don’t know when you’ll see them next. You’re likely not going to hang out with them every day going forward, but you cherish the moment regardless. Here’s what went down.

Live and Die by the Three

The shot from beyond the arc has a grip on the Nets. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that out, but last night it was in your face and leaning in the positive direction more than ever.

The Nets shot 40.4% from deep and held LA to just 36.4. That allowed them to post a +21 point differential from downtown. That’s a stark comparison to what we were dealing with beforehand, as the Nets have the worst 3-point percentage and are bottom-10 in 3-point percentage allowed in the month of January.

Oddly enough, two of the team’s top five shooters from deep struggled with Dorian Finney-Smith and O’Neale going 0-10, but Thomas, Dinwiddie, Lonnie Walker, and Mikal Bridges picked up the slack.

Brooklyn’s screens looked more crisp in creating those looks. The pressure Thomas generated along with Dinwiddie who back from the dead again last night did wonders to free up space along the wing as well.

At the other end, the Nets stuck with the switch which has quietly slowed the avalanche of triples which had been burying them from late December into early January. The held their own on the boards while doing so, unlike against Portland, which was just as integral to the win.

Again, this living and dying by the triple has been a notable aspect of this team almost all year. Last night was just one of the first times in a while they lived though. Simply cannot go home without that takeaway.

Lonnie Walker IV is the all the way back

Unlike Brooklyn’s other spark plug in Cam Thomas, it took Lonnie Walker IV some time to shake off the rust once returning from injury. In three of his first six games back he failed to log 10 minutes, but after last night has now played impactful ones in back-to-back contests.

Returning to the floor where he was deemed an LA hero last playoffs, Walker IV finished last evening with 15 points while shooting 6-of-7 from the field. He also dished out three assists and shot 3-of-4 from deep.

Amid all of Brooklyn’s recent troubles, Walker IV’s production from earlier this year and then the lack their of it became a somewhat underrated part of their mid-season collapse. With him fully returning the form last night it was only natural that it felt like the early-season Nets were back.

Jumping back into the Sixth Man of the Year conversation will be tough for him with Brooklyn’s record and all the sabermetricians falling in love with Derrick White, but more production like this will be needed in the immediate future as four of Brooklyn’s next 10 opponents rank top 10 in plus/minus off the bench. Keep an eye out for how he carries the Nets bench going forward.

Bench is Calling for DFS

Dorian-Finney Smith is on every win-now team’s wish list this trade deadline for a reason. He plays hard, stretches the floor, defends multiple positions, is on a team-friendly contract, and has a pluggable style of play. That latter, along with his numbers, argues he might be better off for the Nets coming off the bench.

We did not get a master class last night in Finney-Smith’s 27th game as a starter this year. He put up just three points and shot 1-of-8 from the field. To his credit, he was hustling like a madman on defense and even came up with two blocks.

Regardless, the metrics and last night’s game argue that bench DFS clears the starting version of him. As a starter this year, Finney-Smith’s averaging 9.1 points per game on 40/38 splits. In his 11 games off the bench, he’s averaging 9.5 points on 48/43 splits.

For whatever reason he just appears more in the flow with Brooklyn’s bench unit. I’ll save my next “why Cam Thomas should start” argument for a rainy day. But when you have a guy who clearly excels better in one role than the other and also have a guy capable of dropping 40 able to slide into his spot that’s an easy equation.