Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, center, slams the ball between Brooklyn Nets' Kris Humphries, left, and Gerald Wallace during the second half of the NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 in New York. The Lakers beat the Nets 92-83 the last time they were in town.
Tuesday’s loss in Washington D.C. may headline Wednesday’s newspapers, but the Los Angeles Lakers woke up in a different city and state by the time those newspapers hit doorsteps. A date with the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night promised the Lakers an opportunity to start a new winning streak and get back to .500 basketball.
Wednesday’s opponents, the Nets, have not started well.
Brooklyn enters Wednesday’s contest having lost eight of its last 10 games. Brooks Lopez, who leads the team in scoring, has missed the last six games. The Nets’ injury problems do not stop there. Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, and Jason Terry also missed their last game, a win against Toronto. All four Nets have been ruled out of Wednesday's contest at the Barclays Center.
Even with those players out, the Nets still have the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Joe Johnson in the starting lineup. At 36 years and 37 years respectively, Pierce and Garnett are showing signs of aging. Pierce is averaging a career-low 13.2 points per game. Garnett’s line is even worse at 6.9 points per game. Garnett, however, is still leading the team in rebounds.
For the Lakers, their bench continues to be a point of strength—even on the road. In Tuesday’s loss to the Wizards, the Lakers’ bench outscored the Wizards’ reserves 48-7. Jordan Farmar has been especially sharp and efficient as of late, and his 22 points, eight assists, and only one turnover were stood out in the losing effort.
Tuesday’s loss provided plenty of positives entering Wednesday’s game. Seven of the nine Lakers in the current rotation hit double digits in scoring, including all five starters. The team shot over 50 percent from the field and over 45 percent from behind the arc. The ball was moving on offense, and 30 of the Lakers’ 44 made baskets were assisted.
The one glaring negative was turnovers. The Lakers carelessly turned the ball over 17 times, and the starters committed 14 of those turnovers. The Lakers are 1-5 on the road this season, and coincidentally, they have at least 14 turnovers in each of those losses.
On Wednesday, the Lakers again face a team they can beat, but taking care of the ball is key. A increase in energy on defense would not hurt, but cutting turnovers would probably suffice against a hobbled, old, and struggling Nets team.
Tip-off for the Lakers at Nets is 4:30 pm PST.