The Brooklyn Nets issued a statement to the rest of the league by trouncing the LA Lakers 109-98. The matchup was much more one-sided than what the final scoreline suggests, with Steve Nash's men leading by as many as 25 points at one stage.
Key absences hurt the cause of the LA Lakers and LeBron James was left fighting a lone battle. Anthony Davis was expected to be sidelined but Dennis Schroder was amiss too due to COVID protocols. None of LeBron's teammates did enough to support LeBron as a waged a lone war.
The Brooklyn Nets were also without Kevin Durant but they never felt his absence as James Harden and Joe Harris took control of proceedings.
Without further ado, let us look at the hits and flops from this game.
#1 Hit: Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets)
Joe Harris is having the greatest run of his career after signing an extension with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason. Harris made the most of Harden's playmaking and exploded for 21 points on 70% shooting including seven made threes.
Harris is averaging 14.9 points per game this season on a 49.5% clip from downtown, both career-highs. The LA Lakers put most of their attention on Harden and Kyrie Irving thereby allowing Harris to make use of some favorable matchups.
#2 Flop: Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
Kyrie Irving was not in his element tonight after returning to the starting lineup following a strained back issue. Irving used his nifty handles to get closer to the rim but found it difficult to finish his mid-rangers. He then took some shots from downtown but missed each of his five three-point attempts.
Irving finished with 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. While they aren't entirely bad numbers, the Brooklyn Nets' guard is averaging close to double that tally this season.
#3 Hit: LeBron James (LA Lakers)
LeBron James must've relived his Cleveland days after seeing the LA Lakers lose big despite his herculean effort. King James was driving to the rim at will against the Brooklyn Nets. He made the most of the Nets' lack of size and scored several baskets by posting up as well.
LeBron became only the third player to reach 35,000 career-points besides Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He finished the night with 32 points, seven assists, and eight rebounds but wasn't really complemented by other LA Lakers teammates.
#4 Flop: Alex Caruso (LA Lakers)
With Dennis Schroder out of the game and Wes Matthews getting hurt mid-way, Alex Caruso got a great chance to shine for the LA Lakers tonight. Although he accounted for three steals, Caruso was mediocre in overall defense. He had a team-worst plus-minus rating of -20.
Caruso's scoring numbers haven't seen an improvement in almost two years and he was mediocre from the field again today. He managed just two points against the Brooklyn Nets on one-of-five shooting despite getting more touches of the ball than usual.
#5 Hit: James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
James Harden has accepted the playmaking role with open arms after joining the Brooklyn Nets. Harden's scoring threat forced the LA Lakers to devote extra attention to him and The Beard made the most of these situations to create open looks for his teammates.
Harden finished with 11 assists on just a solitary turnover. That's incredible efficiency for someone who's averaged 4.9 turnovers per game over the last five seasons. Harden also had 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor.