The Lakers were without Dwight Howard. Metta World Peace was out due to a one-game suspension. Going into Tuesday night’s game, the Lakers were the owners of a tumultuous 7-16 record on the road. Despite all of these factors, the Lakers went into Brooklyn and beat the Nets 92-83.
How did they do it?
It all started on the defensive end. The Lakers held the Nets to just under 35% shooting from the floor, including just 26% from beyond the arc. The Nets did post an exceptional 20 offensive rebounds, including seven by Brook Lopez, however the Lakers were able to slow Brooklyn’s offensive production by forcing 16 turnovers. The fact that the Lakers were able to slow down most of the Nets’ offense without having two of their best defenders was very impressive.
Earl Clark was also a huge factor on Tuesday night. His stat line shows that he played fantastic basketball. In 41 minutes, the most time spent on the floor by any Laker, Clark was able to accrue 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. In addition, he led the team in rebounding, pulling down 12 boards en route to his third consecutive double-double. These numbers along with his zero turnovers led to his most important stat; a +18 plus/minus rating. No other Laker starter had more than a +5.
Finally, the last important factor was that the Lakers could count on Kobe. He started off cold in the first half, only shooting 3-10 from the field. In the second half, we saw more of the old Kobe. He shot 6-14, a much better number, and kept the ball in his hands when the team needed somebody to come up big, including a dunk over Kris Humphries that earned him the number-one spot on Sportscenter.
The one negative to come out of Tuesday night’s win was Pau Gasol’s injury. He went down late in the fourth quarter with what is now being called a plantar fascia strain. With Howard already out due to a nagging shoulder injury, the thought of the Lakers losing Pau in addition is very worrisome.
With that being said, the Lakers have no choice but to move on and play with what they have. Los Angeles has now won six out of their last seven contests, which is tied for their best stretch of the season. The Lakers (23-26) head to Boston next to face the Celtics on Thursday night at the TD Banknorth Garden.