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Nets let third quarter lead slip, still topple LeBron-less Lakers, 121-104

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Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives past Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in New York.
AP Photo/Corey Sipkin

BROOKLYN — It took a little longer than it should have and the game was a little closer than it needed to be, but the Nets came away with a win over the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers, 121-104, at Barclays Center. 

What had been expected to be a star-studded showdown between Anthony Davis and LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving was far from that. James and Davis sat out and Durant has been sidelined by an MCL sprain, which turned the game into a battle between the depth players on both sides.

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Kyrie Irving still led the Nets in scoring with 26, but it was Cam Thomas off the bench with 21 and shooting 61% from the field. Thomas also shot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc in the win. 

Patty Mills also had 21 points in a big performance for the Aussie sharpshooter, who also finished shooting 4-f0r-7 from three and 7-of-12 from the field. Day’Ron Sharpe pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds and three assists. 

Royce O’Neale had a 14-point night and started off hot for the second straight game by hitting consecutive threes.

“It’s why I love team basketball is doing your part not knowing when you’re gonna be called on,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said about the bench’s effort. “We’ve been talking about that trying to normalize that with our group. And next thing you know you’re called upon. Our starters get off to a great start and then we get 66 points from the bench. Pretty impressive. Guys ready to play and do their part.”

It was a sluggish third quarter that made the game closer than it needed to be on Monday night. The Lakers went on a 14-0 run to start the second half and erase a 58-46 halftime lead that the Nets had built through the first 24 minutes of the game. 

Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr. helped to quickly chip away at the lead and Dennis Schroder put up the go-ahead basket with 8:47 left to give Los Angeles the 60-58 edge. Brooklyn was able to retake the lead and move ahead by five after Royce O’Neale completed the three-point play. 

Lonnie Walker IV had the Lakers back up by seven off a three-pointer with 2:32 left in the third, but the Nets turned the tied before the period ended as Patty Mills, Thomas, and Day’Ron Sharpe put up baskets during a 10-0 run for Brooklyn. 

Walker IV pulled LA within one, but Brooklyn went on a 9-1 run to open up a 10-point lead. When Thomas scored on a driving layup with 6:37 left in the game, the Nets had taken a 106-93 lead.

“Yeah, I mean every team is on the run if we’re not making shots,” Irving said. “I felt like we had a few great ones that went in and out or just didn’t go our way. A majority of the offense tonight for the Lakers was in transition. So we didn’t make it difficult for them and just make them do things in a half-court that set our defense and put us in position to be successful. Few offensive rebounds went their way.

“I feel we’ve been talking about this over this kind of stretch of just doing the little things and once other teams do little things, come in and get offensive rebounds and get extra shots, and they’re going to make a run or two.”

The win on Monday was the Nets’ second straight and their fourth in their last six games. It also marked the second straight game that the Nets have seemingly taken their foot off the gas in the third after controlling the first two quarters. 

The Nets held a 29-16 lead after the first 12 minutes and watched as the Lakers shot an abysmal 27.3% from the field and went nearly five minutes without scoring a basket. 

Brooklyn extended its lead to 19 three different times in the second quarter.

For more Nets coverage, visit amNY.com and our affiliate site at TheBrooklynGame.com

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