The Brooklyn Nets can’t wait to get out of L.A. They can’t wait for their road trip out West to end. They can’t wait for Jeremy Lin (and others) to get back from their injuries. They can’t wait to get on the winning track again.

After getting bullied by the Clippers, the Nets didn’t find a win in the same building against the Lakers. Jeremy Lin played with the Lakers in 2014-2015, but there was nothing even remotely similar between the depressed team he played on and the happy, young group under Luke Walton. The Lakers will have more difficult games, but they’re two games above .500 for the first time in over 3 years. Something good is happening for them.

One of the good things on this particular night was the Nets defense, welcoming as ever. Sean Kilpatrick got in foul trouble early against a rampant D’Angelo Russell, and the Nets lost a huge part of their offense and defense, who spent only 18 minutes on the floor. This gave Yogi Ferrell extended minutes. He wasn’t bad, finishing with 11 points and 4 assists and even a +7 during his 19 minutes, but the Nets also played without any point guard on the floor, and the absence of Jeremy Lin couldn’t have been greater than in the final minutes. The Nets managed to make it a 3-point game, but just like in their home loss to the Hornets, they couldn’t get any stops or find some consistent offense when it mattered the most.

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The end result? 125-118 for the Lakers, as the Nets head into Oklahoma City to play the Thunder. Not a guaranteed loss, but as close and fighting as this unit is, this feels like a game the Nets are ill-equipped to win. Not with Lin sitting out waiting to hear the OK on his hamstring, and not when a talented Caris LeVert is still unable to make his NBA debut. Brook Lopez (30 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (29 points) scoring with ease against a bad defense is nice, but the things that make the Nets good in certain moments and on some nights are completely different. The Nets also need to figure out what to do with their third quarters. They’re the second worst team in the NBA in the third, with a net rating of -22.9. This happened quite a lot to Jason Kidd’s Nets in 2013-2014, but things improved later on.

In the current situation? It has a lot more to do with Kilpatrick not being overwhelmed by the point guard position. It has a lot to do with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson feeling confident on offense. Against the Lakers he regressed back to his first two weeks state, scoring just 2 points on 1-of-5 from the field, playing just 18 minutes, looking close to useless when he had the ball in his hands. With the Nets working on limited options, they can’t afford to have only 8 points combined from RHJ and Kilpatrick. 

What about Lin? Unless there are bad news in his upcoming hamstring assessment, he’ll make his return on Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers. As I’ve written a number of times: Even if he is healthy, throwing him in the lineup after missing six games and having him face Russell Westbrook is just another hamstring strain waiting to happen. Being 5-7 or 4-8 isn’t worth sacrificing more time without the team’s best player.

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