The stars rest as Brooklyn Nets drop Lakers

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – There was a lot of anticipation in seeing the 2021-2022 Los Angeles Lakers in action for the first time.  The team fell short of those expectations and struggled in their first preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Lakers struggled on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Let’s keep in mind that Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony all sat out in the preseason opener. Anthony Davis was the only member of the Lakers newly formed Big Three to play in the game. 

His playing time was limited to just the first quarter. Despite not playing the full game, Davis said the Lakers are “way behind” from where the team wants to be.

“Offense will come. We’re not too worried about it,” remarked Davis. “We’ve got to do a better job defensively, especially blocking out.” 

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel mentioned that ball movement was a factor in the struggles. The Lakers finished the game against the Nets with a total of 17 assists. Ball movement was something that was not in play. Stagnation and one-on-one activity limited what the Lakers wanted to do on the offensive end.  

”We forced a little bit offensively… but overall there were some good things,” said Vogel.

The Nets joined the Lakers in sitting their respective stars. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving did not hit the floor for Brooklyn. The Nets jumped off to a hot start in the first quarter. The Lakers played with rust.

With the roster being completely revamped, team chemistry for the Lakers was off. At times, there seemed to be defensive breakdowns and some miscommunication between all of the new players the Lakers brought in. 

Brooklyn, led by Bruce Brown, took advantage of the Lakers’ struggles. Guard Rajon Rondo, who starred with the Lakers on the 2020 championship team, made his return debut in the first quarter and received a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd.

Rondo was on the court as the Lakers gained some momentum against Brooklyn. Led by Davis and Talen Horton Tucker, the Lakers made a run at the Nets, but still trailed 25-19 at the end of the first quarter. 

After the first quarter, Davis checked out and Dwight Howard checked in. Howard, another member of that 2020 Lakers title squad, is playing his third stint with the ballclub.

Horton Tucker as well as Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk gives the Lakers a  shot in the arm when it comes to youth injection. Considering the Lakers are laden with veterans, these three players represent the future for the team in that they can create their own shots and are not afraid to score. With all of that said, Brooklyn began to take command of the game in the second quarter.  

Nets rookie Cam Thomas got into a rhythm in the period, scoring 12 points to lead the Nets as Brooklyn walked into intermission with a 57-49 halftime edge over the Lakers.

Starting the second half with no Davis in the lineup for the remainder of the game, Wayne Ellington stepped in for the purple and gold. The Lakers cut Brookyln’s lead down to four before the Nets called timeout. Both teams regrouped but there was a to of activity out on the down, especially in the paint where Brooklyn’s Nicholas Claxton had to go at it with an active Howard. 

Howard’s aggressiveness on the boards led to some eventual questionable calls against the center. In one situation, Howard was pulled down from behind. On his way down, Howard appeared to accidentally elbow Day’ron Sharpe and was called for a flagrant foul.

Howard was also called for a technical foul during the review of the previous play.  After a long stoppage in play, the Lakers brought some great energy on the floor, cutting the Net’s lead to three points, which was the closest they had been since the start of the game. After three quarters, the Lakers were still in the ballgame, trailing Brooklyn, 84-81. 

When the fourth quarter action got underway, the Nets re-established control. For the Lakers, the final period was about getting work in for some of the players invited to training camp and individuals who participated in the team’s summer league program. With their offense struggling most of the night, the Lakers eventually fell to the Nets in a final score of 123-97. 

Featured Image Caption: Brooklyn Nets guard Jevon Carter, second from left, has his shot rejected by Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, right, and Lakers guard Kent Bazemore, second from right, while guard Kendrick Nunn watches during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)