Andre Drummond finished with a double double of 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 126-101 on Saturday in a battle between two teams lacking much of their star power.
The Lakers entered the game missing their two best players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but they overcame that with energetic play, strong perimeter shooting and a lockdown defence.
“Today we were out here competing, making shots and, yeah, that’s the best win of the year I would say,” Lakers’ Dennis Schroder said.
Without James and Davis, the Lakers had been one of the NBA’s lowest-scoring teams over the past couple of weeks. James was missing his 11th game in a row and Davis has been sidelined for the past 25.
The Nets were without injured all-star James Harden and then lost guard Kyrie Irving, who had scored 18 points, when he was ejected for the first time in his career in the second half.
Kevin Durant was forced to carry the load for the Nets. In his second game back from a hamstring injury, Durant tallied 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists in front of a pandemic-limited crowd of 1,700 at Barclays Center.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 12 points for the Nets, who have won eight of their last 11 games.
Irving and the Lakers’ Schroder, who finished with 19 points, were both thrown out of the game early in the third-quarter for jawing too long after a foul was called on the Nets’ player.
Ben McLemore had 17 points for the Lakers, who held the Nets to 43.8 shooting from the floor. Markieff Morris added 14 points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 14 points and five assists.
“I learned a lot from today’s game, that we have a lot of guys in this locker room that are very tough,” Drummond said. “Despite who’s on the other side of the court, they’re going to come out and play.”
The Lakers jumped out an 18-7 lead on 54 percent shooting from the floor in the first quarter but were leading by just four when Irving was tossed.
“I thought they were the aggressor, they were more physical, they hit first and we didn’t match their physicality and competitive fire, and that’s what you get,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “A team missing a bunch of guys and guys get an opportunity and their eyes light up and they come out and play harder than us, play more physical than us.
“And it’s a great lesson for us.”
In Salt Lake City, Donovan Mitchell scored 42 points and the Utah Jazz won their 24th consecutive game at home with a 128-112 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Mike Conley delivered 26 points and Joe Ingles came off the bench to score 20 to help the Jazz overcome a double-digit deficit en route to a one-sided win over the Kings. Conley also had five threes.
The Jazz became the first team to reach 40 wins in the season and posted their 11th win in 13 games.
Also, Devin Booker’s 27 points, double-doubles from both Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, helped the Phoenix Suns to a dominating 134-106 victory over the Washington Wizards.
In Portland, Enes Kanter set a Trail Blazers record with 30 rebounds and also scored 24 points to lead Portland to a 118-103 win over the Detroit Pistons.