Fans who stretched their budgets to splurge for tickets to see LeBron James and Anthony Davis face a star-filled team that included Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons might not have been pacified. The quartet sat with various injuries, the Lakers appearing to give James a breather before a quick turnaround for Tuesday’s showdown with the Knicks at the Garden.
But at least those fans saw a chaotic Nets victory.
The Nets dominated the first half, were inept for much of the third quarter but regained control in the fourth quarter to survive with a messy, 121-104 victory Monday over the depleted Lakers at Barclays Center in front of 17,924.
Kyrie Irving, the lone marquee Brooklyn player remaining, scored 26 points and got plenty of help from the bench — especially Cam Thomas and Patty Mills, large parts of a 66-point night from the reserves — as the Nets escaped a game that included four technical fouls and plenty of sloppy play.
The Nets (31-19) improved to 4-6 without Durant, whose sprained MCL is due to be evaluated early next week.
When Brooklyn needed a run after a miserable third quarter, it turned to some unlikely contributors. Mills and Thomas, out of the rotation for much of this season, nailed back-to-back 3s early in the period, pushing the Nets’ lead to eight. After a Lakers timeout, Yuta Watanabe (12 points) converted a fast-break layup, and the Nets could begin to exhale.
Thomas played one of his best games of the season and scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, when the second-year guard’s treys and runners allowed the Nets to expand the lead.
It was a good day for Nets sophomores. Without Simmons (knee), Day’Ron Sharpe stepped up as backup center and set a new career-high with 14 rebounds, eight offensive. The second-year big man added eight points, including a thunderous put-back dunk early in the fourth to push the Nets’ lead to 10, and a pair of blocks.
Mills, given more playing time without Durant, T.J. Warren (shin) and with Seth Curry and Joe Harris off (a combined 1-for-10 from 3), exploded for four 3s and 21 points, his second-highest output of the season.
The Nets led by as many as 19 in a first half in which the game often felt like an exhibition. All 11 Nets who were active played — and scored — in the first two quarters, with unfamiliar lineups and nine early points from Mills.
The Nets held the out-of-sorts Lakers — without their pair of superstars and perhaps still reeling from a controversial and draining loss in Boston on Saturday — to 16 first-quarter points, the Nets’ best defensive first period of the season.
But the Lakers reeled off the first 14 points of the third quarter, punctuated by Dennis Schroder’s 3 that included a Curry foul, helping the Lakers escape the hole with a 60-58 edge. They kept adding from there and outscored the Nets 36-15 in the first nine-and-half minutes of the period, when Harris, Royce O’Neale, Nic Claxton and Curry combined to go 2-for-10.
The Lakers led by as many as seven in the quarter before the Nets clawed back. Thomas, of all people, ran off five straight points to give the Nets an 83-82 edge. Sharpe padded the lead with a put-back, and the Nets had some breathing room entering the fourth.
- Irving, Nets bench delivers messy win over LeBron-less Lakers
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