Nick Young and the Lakers’ 3-point shooters couldn’t miss early. Paul Pierce couldn’t believe he missed at the end.
Young scored a season-high 26 points to spark a huge effort from the league’s most productive bench, and Los Angeles beat the Brooklyn Nets 99-94 on Wednesday night after blowing a 27-point lead.
Wesley Johnson made the tiebreaking basket when he stole Pierce’s pass and dunked with 1:35 left, and the Lakers used their sizzling start to bounce back from a loss in Washington a night earlier and win for the fourth time in five games.
”We weren’t doing anything wrong (early in the game),” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”Everything was going and going, and guys were hitting shots. We just have to understand how we do it and bottle it and keep going.”
Pau Gasol added 21 points for the Lakers, moving into second place on the NBA’s career list for points by a European player.
Wearing new black uniforms and hearing ”Let’s go Lakers!” chants, the Lakers jumped on the Nets right from the start and were ahead 48-21 early in the second quarter. But the Nets fought all the way back, also behind their bench.
They had a chance to tie it again at the end, but Pierce just missed from straightaway with 2.2 seconds left, capping a 4-for-17 night.
”It’s frustrating when the ball doesn’t go your way, but eventually I know these shots throughout the course of 82 games are going to fall for me,” Pierce said.
Joe Johnson scored 18 points but missed nine of 10 shots in the second half for the Nets, who failed in their bid to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
Mirza Teletovic had a career-best 17 for the Nets, Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson each added 14, and Pierce finished with 12.
Still without starters Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, plus key reserves Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets fell to the Lakers for the 11th straight time.
Gasol has 15,773 points. He entered 10 behind Detlef Schrempf for No. 2 among European players, and the center from Spain now trails only Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki.
Jordan Farmar scored 15 points and Jodie Meeks had 11 for the Lakers, hitting a pair of free throws with 8.3 seconds left that never would’ve seemed necessary the way the game began, with Los Angeles making seven of its first nine 3-point attempts and hitting Brooklyn with an 18-0 run.
”We were playing well, moving the ball and making shots and getting stops,” said Farmar, a former Nets reserve. ”We knew they would make a run, though. Once we relaxed, they took advantage of it.”
Steve Blake hit consecutive 3-pointers to open it and the Lakers sprinted to an 11-2 lead after barely 2 minutes. The Nets were only down seven with under 2 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter before Young ran off the final nine points to make it 34-18.
Farmar then opened the second with three straight 3-pointers to make it 43-18, capping the Lakers’ run of 18 straight points. He later added another that bounced on the rim a bunch of times before falling, pushing it to 48-21 with 8:30 to play.
The Nets came right back with 15 in a row to trim it to 48-36, and the Lakers led 54-40 at halftime.
”The Lakers came out and they hit us right off the bat, but the guys kept fighting,” said Nets coach Jason Kidd, who caused a bit of a delay at the end when he dropped his drink onto the court in front of the bench.
A video of Kidd’s drink fumble showed him appearing to tell guard Tyshawn Taylor to ”hit me” as he walked toward the bench. Taylor then bumped into Kidd, who spilled the drink in his hand, giving the Nets time to discuss strategy while the floor was cleaned.
Brooklyn played a strong third quarter, the period that’s so often been such a big downfall this season, then pulled within six to open the fourth on Teletovic’s 3-pointer. He gave them their first tie at 92 with a pair of free throws with 3:57 left.
Wesley Johnson then stepped in front of Pierce’s pass for an easy two points the other way.
”I saw his eyes look over to where I was, but I think he didn’t see me,” Johnson said. ”So I played the passing line and took a gamble and got my hand it.”
Blake’s free throw made it 95-92. Anderson’s dunk cut it to one with 9.8 seconds left before Meeks’ free throws, and Xavier Henry closed it out with two free throws after Pierce’s miss.
NOTES: The Nets’ last victory over the Lakers was Nov. 25, 2007, in Los Angeles behind 15 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds from Kidd. The Lakers finished 13 for 30 behind the arc.