By Terrance Turner
April 10, 2021
It was a battle of two shorthanded teams. The Brooklyn Nets were without James Harden and DeAndre Jordan; Kevin Durant was limited in action. The Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James (high-ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma (calf strain). Yet somehow they managed to overpower the Nets with a series of high-scoring runs. The Lakers won 126-101 in Barclays Center tonight, winning on the road in a blowout in Brooklyn.
Dennis Schroder started the scoring; power forward Markeith Morris added a pair of three-pointers. Then Schroder himself hit a three to put the Lakers 11-2. L.A. wound up going 7-for-8 to push the lead to 18-7. They continued to dominate the undermanned Nets (Harden has missed 18 games; Durant, 15). The Lakers led 33-25 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers maintained a lead through part of the second quarter, but the Nets fought back to briefly take the lead. A two-pointer by Kyrie Irving made it 43-35. Blake Griffin picked up an offensive foul when he collided with Lakers’ Dennis Schroder, who was knocked to the ground. Griffin also fell on the play, but Schroder took some time to get back up. He was seen limping afterward (from a possible tailbone injury), but continued to play.
The Nets came from behind in the second quarter, shooting 63%. Kyrie Irving had a highlight-reel shot to make the score 49-41. After avoiding a block by Drummond, Irving tossed an underhead shot off one hand. The ball swooped up from underneath the net, rose into the air, and fell right in.
Durant added a jumper, and after a missed layup by LaMarcus Aldridge he added a putback to tie the game at 52. Then, after a miss by Drummond, Durant surged down the field for the slam. The Nets, after trailing for nearly the whole game, now had a 54-52 lead.
Markeith Morris tied it again at 56 with two minutes left, then hit another shot to help L.A. regain the lead. The Lakers led at halftime, 61-58.
The second half began with what turned out to be a wild third quarter. Durant narrowed the Laker lead even more with a two-pointer, but Drummond hit a three to give L.A. a 64-60 edge. Then he answered a layup by Aldridge with another two points, putting the Lakers up 66-62.
And then, after a foul, Irving confronted Schroder on the court. According to CBS Sports, “Schroder tried to drive to the basket, and Irving was called for a foul. As the Lakers tried to take the ball out of bounds, the two point guards got into it a little bit, and were given double technicals.”
The two had to be physically separated by referees and other players, but the jawing continued, and Irving was disqualified from the game. Then Schroder was ejected, too!!! The referees’ move drew loud boos from fans, but it also lit a fire under the Lakers. They would outscore the Nets 60-39 after the ejections.
Durant came close to closing the gap with a surging layup and then made three free throws, narrowing the lead to four. It was 71-67. But that was as close as the game would get. The Lakers went on a 15-2 run, going up 88-71. A basket by McLemore made it 92-77 as the fourth quarter got underway.
Two consecutive three-pointers by Ben McLemore extended the Lakers lead to 21. Brooklyn cut it back down to 15, with Blake Griffin making both his free throws and then landing a huge block on Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell. But with McLemore on a tear — he scored the Lakers’ first 11 points of the quarter — L.A. pulled away. They went up 105-83 with 8:29 remaining, and with 6:31 left the score was 109-85. With about five minutes left, Nets coach Steve Nash rested both Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin, a sign of resignation in what would be a blowout loss. The Lakers won, 126-101.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel called the game “the best win of the season”. Dennis Schroder agreed: “This is the best win of the year, I would say,” he told the media after the game. When reporters asked Ben McLemore what he’s noticed about the Lakers, he answered: “Togetherness … everybody is there for each other. Communication. Chemistry … it’s my second game here, and already building a good chemistry with guys. Great win for us tonight.”
Per Lakers writer Ryan Ward, Frank Vogel also called the Lakers’ performance “a complete team effort”. The statistics prove him right. According to Lakers reporter Brad Turner, the team had eight players (including all five of its starters) score in double digits during its commanding win: