Nets host Lakers, go for sixth straight win
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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets are on their longest winning streak in three-and-a-half years -- five games - and next up is a meeting with LeBron James.
Except for this time, it will not be in the colors of the Cleveland Cavaliers but the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers.
James makes his latest visit to Brooklyn Tuesday night when the Lakers visit the Nets, who are on a five-game winning streak.
The Nets are on their longest streak since March 25-April 3, 2015, when they were coached by Lionel Hollins. The current run follows a frustrating eight-game skid that saw the Nets struggle to close out games.
The run began with an overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 7, continued with road wins over the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers before the Nets returned home to beat the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks.
The Nets have scored at least 120 points in three straight games, getting enough offense despite allowing at least 54 percent shooting. They are the first team to do so since the Houston Rockets in 1987-88.
During the streak, the Nets are averaging 122.8 points, shooting 50.2 percent (217-of-432) from the floor, 40.4 percent (63-of-156) from 3-point range while averaging 27.4 assists and assisting on 63.1 percent of their baskets.
Those averages increased significantly when the Nets recorded a 144-127 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. In their latest win, Brooklyn shot 55.7 percent and totaled 34 assists.
"I think we're really sharing the ball," coach Kenny Atkinson said after the Nets scored their second-most points in a regulation game in franchise history. "Thirty-four assists two games in a row. That's high level, making the extra pass, good to great, playing with the pass, all the stuff we have been preaching since the beginning and then, obviously, that thing is going in. I would add to that, our drive game. We are an aggressive driving team and that opened stuff up for our shooting."
The Nets are also getting effective guard play out of D'Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Russell scored 32 points Sunday and is averaging 18 points on 49.4 percent (38-of-77). Dinwiddie finished with 15 in his second game after signing a contract extension Friday and is averaging 24.6 points on 52 percent (39-of-75) shooting.
"I think just our commitment for wanting to see each other do better," Russell said. "Everybody is aggressive at the appropriate time but still wanting to make that extra pass for the next guy, still having your teammates' back on the defensive end, that rotation. We're making those plays."
The Nets played their last two games without Allen Crabbe, who is questionable with a right knee sprain. Rookie Rodions Kurucs started for Crabbe in those games and scored 11 points Sunday.
Los Angeles concludes a four-game road trip with its visit to Brooklyn and hopes to rebound from a 128-110 loss on Sunday in Washington. The Lakers trailed by as many as 27 points while James was held to a season-low 13 points on 5 of 16 shooting.
"We have to get some rest," James said after being held under 20 points for the fourth time this season. "We have two days so no excuses obviously with the game being on Tuesday. I watched the game before we played. They put up 140 something points, so we have to be ready to defend for 48 minutes."
Sunday's loss followed a 28-point win in Charlotte the previous night when James and Lonzo Ball both recorded triple-doubles but the Lakers could not produce an effective follow-up performance as they committed 22 turnovers.
Kenatvious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 25 points while Kyle Kuzma added 20. Those showings occurred on a night when the starting backcourt of Ball and Josh Hart combined for 14 points on 6-of-21 shooting.
"Not a lot of good to take from that other than the lesson of you don't show up to play in the NBA you will not win," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "Whether it was a back to back. I don't know it was. We did not have the proper energy to win an NBA game tonight."
The Lakers were without Brandon Ingram, who missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left ankle while JaVale McGee also did not play due to a last-minute illness.
Los Angeles has won 16 of the last 20 meetings, including eight of 12 since the Nets moved to Brooklyn in 2012.
Updated December 17, 2018