February 27, 2024

The Lakers should have coasted to their third consecutive home win, easily overpowering the struggling Brooklyn Nets in front of a home crowd.

Instead, the Lakers assigned themselves a much bigger challenge and ultimately couldn’t overcome the Nets’ spirited second-half surge.

Brooklyn rolled to a 130-112 win Friday night at Crypto.com Arena as the Lakers shot a miserable 29% during the fourth quarter.

The Lakers (21-22) opened with quick pace, sharp passing and hot shooting to mask a tepid defensive performance in the first half, but they opened the third quarter flat and could not pull out of the ensuing nosedive.

Mikal Bridges hit a three-pointer with 8:50 left in the third to cap a 14-6 Nets run and give Brooklyn its first lead at 76-74. The Nets (17-24) increased their advantage from there, the lead swelling to as many as 23 points.

LeBron James looked ageless in the first half, delivering a poster dunk and a barrage of deep three-pointers to the delight of the crowd. He backed down defenders for shots in the paint and finished contested layups with ease.

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. dives for a loose ball in front of Lakers' D'Angelo Russell and LeBron James.

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr., center, dives for a loose ball in front of Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell (1) and LeBron James, right, in the first half.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Lakers, however, mirrored James in the second half, during which nothing he touched seemed to fall. He complained to a referee about contact during a miss in the paint and was hit with a technical foul with 11:11 left in the fourth quarter. Two possessions later, Christian Wood missed a three-pointer and James missed twice from close range after hustling for offensive rebounds.

The Nets suffered no such trouble.

While the Lakers’ second-half field-goal percentage plummeted to 34% with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter, the Nets’ was a healthy 59% and the team pushed its lead to 19.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 26 points, while James finished with 24 and D’Angelo Russell added 20.

Cam Thomas led the Nets with 33 points on 13-for-18 shooting.

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