Andre Drummond comes up giant for the Lakers in win over Brooklyn
"Coming up big" might be an understatement.
Sans LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and a few others, Saturday night seemed as if it would be tough sledding for the Los Angeles Lakers, as they paid their one and only regular-season visit to Barclays Center to face the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite newest superstar acquisition James Harden being sidelined with hamstring tightness, the Nets – winners of six of their last eight, 14 of their last 18 and 22 or their last 27 – rolled out Kyrie Irving and a newly-recovered Kevin Durant, the other components of their "Big 3," to take on the defending champions.
But the best player on the floor come Saturday – well, the most effective – was the Lakers' newest addition, big man Andre Drummond.
In 22 minutes of work, Drummond dropped in 20 points and grabbed 11 boards in only his third game with the Lakers. His plus-18 plus/minus was quite the shift from his minus-eight in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on March 31, and his minus-1 in a loss at Miami on April 8.
The Lakers won, 126-101, handing Brooklyn its second most-lopsided loss of the season (on March 30, they lost at Utah, 118-88, without Durant, Irving and Harden) and Drummond essentially had his way with the Nets, scoring at the rim easily and often.
At times, he completely overwhelmed Brooklyn's recent inside addition, former All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who, alongside fellow former All-Star Blake Griffin, combined to register 15 points and three rebounds in 40 minutes.
Overall, the Nets defense was porous, giving up 126 points to a Lakers team devoid of its two superstars and Kuzma, as well as guard Wesley Matthews.
It was the most points they've given up since they lost at Washington, 149-146, on Jan. 31.
As of Sunday morning, the Nets are the heavy favorite to win the NBA title (+250), according to FOX Bet, with the Lakers sitting in second (+340). But on Saturday night, Nick Wright was quick to point out that the Brooklyn defense, which has been besmirched for most of the season, will be up against it in the Eastern Conference playoffs before even having a chance to face the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
That brings us back to Drummond.
Saturday represented the second double-double of his Lakers tenure so far, and his 20th of the season in 28 games. He is one of only five players to notch a double-double in over 70% of his games played (min. 28 games).
While FOX Sports' Chris Broussard didn't want to look too deep into the Lakers' domination of Brooklyn, he did give credit to Drummond for his performance, and said that his inside presence could be enough to at least slightly concern the superstar-laden Nets.
"In dominating LaMarcus Aldridge, Drummond showed that the Lakers are capable of playing a style that could give Brooklyn problems. With Drummond able to score big inside, LeBron able to control the tempo, and the Lakers owning the league’s top defense, the Lakers could opt to slow it down against the smaller Nets.
"Would the Lakers go that route? Would that be enough for the Lakers to win four of seven? I say no, but stay tuned."
Shannon Sharpe, for one, took away the opposite from Saturday's tilt, and was convinced that the win signaled good things down the road for the Lakers.
But Skip Bayless labeled it as nothing but a bump in the road for the Nets.
The tweet of the night, however, went to Kuzma.
Can you decipher this one?
If not, time to do your meme research.
In terms of Drummond, it seems the Nets indeed have a Drummond problem, considering this isn't the first time this season he's gone HAM in the paint against Brooklyn.
He's now 3-0 against the Nets this season, and after the game on Saturday, Drummond was asked if he feels like his physical advantages are too much for Brooklyn and if he has been able to simply impose his will on the Nets.
"For me, it's just about playing my game. Paying attention to the scouting report and seeing who's guarding me, and seeing where I need to be on the floor to be most effective. Today, I was just being the enforcer on both ends of the court."
Common knowledge would suggest that once James and Davis return to the Lakers lineup, L.A. will have even more of a decided advantage in the key over their opponents.
But common knowledge also suggests that there are only a handful of opponents that the Lakers are actually looking at as potential threats to their crown, with Brooklyn being one of them.
And on Saturday, L.A. got a glimpse of the blueprint it might require to knock off the high-powered Nets.
That blueprint, apparently, has Andre Drummond written all over it.
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