Lakers look to bounce back at home against Nets
LOS ANGELES — After getting blown out by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Los Angeles Lakers will try to regroup at home.
The Lakers open a four-game homestand Tuesday night beginning with the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center.
Energy was an issue for the Lakers during their last outing, which resulted in a 126-99 loss Sunday to the host Timberwolves behind a career-high 47 points from Andrew Wiggins. Although the Lakers finished the three-game trip with a 2-1 mark and earned double-digit victories over the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, the journey took its toll in Minnesota.
“There's not many teams in the NBA that go three in four nights on the road and can bring it on that last night,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, according to the Los Angeles Times, referring to the debacle against the Timberwolves. “We'll continue to get better. At that point it becomes more mental than anything else. We didn't have that (Sunday).”
Despite the defeat, the Lakers (6-5) have been one of the NBA's early surprises. Los Angeles didn't record its sixth win until Dec. 30, 2015, at Boston en route to a franchise-worst 17-65 campaign.
Their improved play has been mainly the by-product of their up-tempo offense, a system Walton incorporated here after two seasons with the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers ranked fifth in points per game (108.6) heading into Monday's games. They also were third in field-goal percentage (47.6), a category they trailed the Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks, two teams they beat earlier this season. Los Angeles also was the third-best free-throw shooting club at 81.7 percent.
However, the Lakers have been careless handling the basketball. They were 25th in turnovers at 16.6 per game before Monday.
They've also experienced problems defensively, allowing 107.5 points per game, which ranked 20th. Opponents have shot 46.6 percent (25th) against Los Angeles.
Brooklyn (4-6) will be playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Nets were handed a 127-95 spanking by the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
“It happens in the NBA. The good thing about it is you play the next night,” said Nets forward Trevor Booker, who managed just four points and a first-half technical foul for his frustrations during the rout.
Against the Clippers, the Nets played without center and leading scorer Brook Lopez, who the club rested because of the back-to-backs it is playing.
“It's just our plan for him, big picture,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of the team's plan to consistently boost Lopez's peak performance level, according to Newsday.
Lopez appears to be on board with the plan.
“We've been having meetings throughout the process,” Lopez told Newsday. “We had a schedule kind of planned out, but it's pretty tentative. We've mostly been playing it by ear. We felt it would be best to take one of these (two games in Los Angeles) off and just go for it after that.”
The Lakers swept the Nets in their two meetings last season.
After Tuesday's contest, the host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday and the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. They cap their stay at home with a contest Nov. 22 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.