Since James Harden went to the Brooklyn Nets, the media has been hyping this game up to be a preview of the 2021 NBA Championships. The Los Angeles Lakers are the reigning champions and the Nets made some serious off season and free agency moves to improve. The Nets now have James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. This All-Star trio playing against the Lakers, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, is what the media saw as the championship match up.
Last night, the teams looked a little bit different. First, for the Nets, Kevin Durant did not play last night. Durant is the Nets’ leading scorer with 29 points per game. This gave a lot more opportunities to score to Harden and Irving. The Lakers were also missing two starters, both Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder. With these two missing, it seemed like pressure was added to LeBron to score.
The Lakers lost the game 109-98. While there were some absences in the game, the Lakers still got beat by over 20 points. What happened?
LeBron stepped up in the absence of Schroder and Davis and scored 32 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. While LeBron scored above his average, the next highest scorer was Kyle Kuzma, with only 16 points. When comparing this to the Nets who had players with 23 points, 21 points, 15 points and 16 points. The Lakers seemed to be looking to Lebron to score while the Nets had a much more even dispersal of points across their players.
Capitalizing on Turnovers
The turnovers for the game were about equal. The Nets had 14 turnovers while the Lakers had 16. Where the difference comes in is the points off of turnovers. The Nets scored 25 points off of the Lakers’ turnovers while the Lakers only scored 14. While this does not account for the whole 20 point loss, it would have brought the Lakers within 10. That extra momentum, especially when its feeding off the opponent’s mistakes, could have gave the Lakers an extra push.
The 3-point shooting is the other statistic that seems glaring when looking at the box score. The Lakers took 30 three pointers last night but only made eight . On the other hand, the Nets took 39 three-pointers and made 18. When looking at the percentages, that is a 26.7% for the Lakers versus a 46.2% for the Nets. That definitely could have been a difference maker for the Lakers if their percentage was even slightly improved last night.
While the Lakers did not perform as expected last night, this game was not the championship. There were pieces of the team missing and some bad shooting on display. Despite the not so great performance, LeBron became the third player in NBA history to reach 35,000 points. And with a 32 point performance last night, it doesn’t look like LeBron is slowing down anytime soon.
The third player to ever reach the 35,000 Point Club. The fastest to ever get there.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 19, 2021