The embattled Brooklyn Nets start the road trip with a bang by securing a win over LeBron James and the Lakers in Los Angeles.
- Brooklyn Nets 104 (30-34)
- Los Angeles Lakers 102 (49-14)
- NBA, Final, Box Score
- STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LeBron James‘ MVP candidacy was gaining momentum and the Los Angeles Lakers were fresh off wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers. The Brooklyn Nets were only a few days removed from “mutually parting ways” with head coach Kenny Atkinson.
But lo and behold, the Nets came away victorious on Tuesday night. To no one’s surprise, LeBron dominated, falling one assist shy of a triple-double in the loss. James is receiving a late push in the MVP hunt against the clear frontrunner—Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There’s a case to be made for LeBron, but some pundits in the media this week have been bending over backward to push the MVP narrative for the Lakers star. Some have cited his handling of the NBA’s China controversy (???) as well as his response to Kobe Bryant’s death as reasons he deserves the MVP over Giannis.
He’s an unstoppable force on the basketball court and that’s all that should matter in the MVP conversation. Anyone who watched him cruise to 29 points against the Nets would know that he has a compelling argument without having to reach for off-the-court nonsense.
With that said, he’s going to need to put his game into hyperdrive to beat out the reigning MVP. Antetokounmpo is a force of nature.
Despite James’ MVP-like effort, the pesky Nets were at it again. After the victory in Tinseltown, Brooklyn is on a three-game winning streak and 2-0 under interim head coach Jacque Vaughn.
Spencer Dinwiddie provided the heroics in his hometown. Despite his frustrating fourth quarter filled with missed shots and turnovers, the LA native provided a clutch bucket when Brooklyn needed it most.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 11, 2020
The Brooklyn Nets rollercoaster continues. Following the game, Dinwiddie spoke to the media about the importance of starting out the road trip with a win.
“It feels good because it’s a high-quality opponent on the road, for sure,” Dinwiddie said. “For a team that is doing its best right now to continue to find itself, obviously it’s going through injuries and the coaching change as well, there’s been a ton of up and down.”
The win will do a lot for Brooklyn’s confidence as the team prepares for three more road games against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and Sacramento Kings.
With the victory, the Nets keep the eighth-place Orlando Magic at bay. In perhaps the most depressing kind of playoff jockeying, the Nets are trying to secure the seven seed to avoid a first-round matchup against the aforementioned Bucks.
Brooklyn has a legitimate chance of stealing a game—and by extension stealing a little more playoff experience—against the Toronto Raptors, the likely two seed in the Eastern Conference.
The regular season and the playoffs are completely different animals. Putting too much stock into any regular-season win is dubious, but if nothing else, the Nets can feel good about themselves after beating LeBron and the Lakers. Los Angeles was an absolute buzzsaw last week and had won 11 of their last 12 games.
Despite all the drama and noise, the Nets are playing winning basketball right now. Should we brace ourselves for a potential Lakers-Nets rematch in the NBA Finals? Hell no. Anything more than a first-round exit in the playoffs seems like a longshot at this point, but these Nets are such a rollercoaster that it’s impossible to know exactly what to expect.
Four-Game Road Trip Log
- Los Angeles Lakers — 104-102 Win
- Golden State Warriors — Thursday, March 12, 10:30 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Clippers — Friday, March 13, 10:30 p.m.
- Sacramento Kings — Sunday, March 15, 9 p.m.