The New Jersey Nets, one of the league’s doormats, certainly has not made life easy for the defending NBA champs in two games this season. The Lakers had their hands full again on Friday night, but led by Kobe Bryant, were able to get a 100-88 win over the Nets at Staples Center.
Bryant scored a team-high 27 points, to go along with four assists and four rebounds, as the Lakers beat the Nets for the seventh straight time. But it wasn’t easy.
The Nets led after one quarter 24-22, as Brook Lopez shredded the Lakers down low all game long. The Lakers recpatured the lead 45-40 by halftime, but never were able to shake New Jersey completely in the second half.
During the second 24 minutes, the Lakers had the lead up to double-digits on a few occasions, but the Nets simply would not go away, led by the play of Lopez and former Lakers Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. And with all the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors surrounding team, their focused effort was even more impressive.
The Lakers made enough good plays in the fourth quarter and kept the visitors at arm’s length to get the win. It was Los Angeles’ seventh straight victory, their longest since opening the season with eight consecutive wins.
Pau Gasol scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in under 33 minutes. He also blocked four shots. Lamar Odom had 14 points and a 11 rebounds off the bench, and Ron Artest played a solid game, scoring 14 points on 5-7 shooting from the field. Andrew Bynum was in foul trouble all game long, and managed just two points and five rebounds in 22 minutes.
The Lakers shot 49.3% (35-71) from the field, hit 25-35 free throws, and committed only nine turnovers. Their downfall was on the glass, as the Nets held the rebound edge 45-38, including 15-7 at the offensive end. The second chances allowed New Jersey to take 14 more shots from the field, which kept them in the game, despite shooting just 42.4% (36-85) from the floor.
Lopez had a huge game, with 35 points on 13-19 from the floor. He was just two off his career-high of 37 points. He also added six rebounds and four assists.
Farmar and Vujacic got warm ovations from Lakers’ fans in their first games back at Staples Center. Vujacic was second on the team in scoring, tallying 17 points on 7-16 from the field off the bench. Farmar also had a nice game with 12 points, also coming off the bench. They were the only two players in double-figures besides Lopez.
The Lakers next game is Sunday at Staples Center against the Clippers. The Clippers will be the designated home team for the game, and are playing much better ball as of late, including a shocking 107-99 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. The Lakers beat the Clippers 87-86 back on December 8th, on a running layup by Derek Fisher at the buzzer.