The Brooklyn Nets will be without Ben Simmons (left knee soreness) and T.J. Warren (left shin contusion) for the second straight game Monday night against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
With Simmons and Warren joining Kevin Durant at the sidelines, the Nets had to shoot the lights out against their across-the-river rival New York Knicks last Saturday to escape with a 122-115 win.
They banked on a season-high 22 three-pointers and Kyrie Irving’s fourth 20-point fourth-quarter game to offset their lack of size (the Nets were minus-10 in rebounds and minus-34 in points in the paint).
They have a great opportunity to repeat that against the Lakers, who opted to rest their top stars LeBron James (left ankle soreness) and Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) in the front end of a back-to-back schedule.
The Lakers are 4-6 in their past 10 games, but they have been competitive in four losses, including a heartbreaker in Boston, where James missed a potential game-winning layup with one second left in the overtime. Referee Eric Lewis missed a foul committed by Jayson Tatum on James’ layup attempt, which the NBA admitted afterward.
All eyes will be on the backcourt showdown between Irving and Russell Westbrook, nearly swapped in the offseason when uneasiness and restlessness reigned over in Brooklyn and L.A.
But between the two teams, the Nets have managed to get over the hump and are sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 30-19 record. But they are only 3-6 since Durant sustained an MCL sprain to his right knee.
The 23-27 Lakers are two games outside the final spot for the play-in tournament.
The frontline battle between Nets rising center Nic Claxton, second-year big man Day’ron Sharpe and the Lakers frontcourt duo of Thomas Bryant and newly acquired Rui Hachimura will also be interesting.
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