LeBron’s Lakers too much for depleted Nets
King James hands Brooklyn its second straight loss
A sold-out Barclays Center was roaring Tuesday night in Downtown Brooklyn.
But the noise wasn’t for the Brooklyn Nets.
LeBron James scored 33 points, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out six assists, picked up three steals and blocked two shots to energize the capacity crowd of 18,126 and lead the visiting Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-96 victory over the struggling Nets on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
James, the best player of his generation and one of the greatest ever to lace them up, went 14-of-21 from the field and 3-of-3 at the line in 34 scintillating minutes.
He had the Barclays crowd chanting “MVP!” and cheering virtually every move he made.
Though that adulation is normally reserved for Brooklyn superstars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving,
“The King” was on center stage in our borough after helping the Lakers (24-24) climb back to .500 with their third win in five games.
“You take a step away and you recognize how unique he is, how difficult it is to be playing at the level he’s playing at this stage in his career,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash of James.
Harden did his share to keep the Nets and their fans in the game.
He had 33 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for Brooklyn (29-18), which will be without the injured Durant (knee sprain) for at least the next month.
Irving was unavailable to the Nets due to his vaccination status.
The mercurial point guard can only play for Brooklyn on the road or in cities that don’t have the same level of COVID-19 mandates and restrictions for unvaccinated players as New York City.
That left Harden to carry most of the load on a night the Nets watched another superstar take over their building.
Malik Monk scored 22 points off the bench, Russell Westbrook had 15 and Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony added 13 for Los Angeles, which got center Anthony Davis back after he missed five weeks with a left knee strain.
Davis finished with eight points and four blocked shots in 25 minutes in his first action since Dec. 17.
“Just his presence is an impact for our ball club,” James said of Davis on the TNT telecast of the game.
“He adds so much more length to our defense. He adds another playmaker, another dynamic player on the floor where you can’t have all eyes on myself and Russ and Melo. Now you have to account for A.D. as well.”
Patty Mills scored 15 points and DeAndre’ Bembry added 12 for the Nets, who fell to 12-12 this season at Barclays.
“I’m still unsure why we struggle at home. Obviously it’s disappointing, frustrating,” Nash told the New York Post.
“We play very well on the road for the most part and to have basically a .500 record at home is below our expectations so I’m not sure exactly whey that is but hopefully it’s something that we can cure the rest of this season.”
Brooklyn will host Denver here on Wednesday night before embarking on a four-game road trip that begins Saturday at Golden State.
NOTHING BUT NET: Center Nic Claxton, who had missed seven straight games with a hamstring injury, had six points and seven rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to L.A. … Nash was asked about a story in Bleacher Report that said Harden was still mulling where he would go in free agency due to his frustration with Irving’s road-game-only status and the head coach’s playing rotations. “So I’m not sure what to believe,” Nash said. “James and I speak all the time and I think we have a great relationship, so I’m not sure the validity of these comments to be honest with you.” … The Nets will visit the Warriors Saturday before heading to Phoenix (Feb. 1), Sacramento (Feb. 2) and Utah (Feb. 4). Brooklyn will be back at Barclays on Feb. 8 vs. Boston.
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