The Brooklyn Nets made their return to the court with a resounding victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and Anthony Davis took notice. In a game that was close until the fourth quarter, it was a 39-point outburst in the final frame that helped the Nets come away with a 123-97 victory to officially tip off their tuneup games.
Even though the Lakers didn’t play LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, or Trevor Ariza, the way the team faltered at the end got the attention of eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis.
"“We’re way behind,” Davis told the media after the game. “Defensively, talking, getting our schemes right. We’re not boxing out.”"
The box score certainly confirms the criticisms from Davis, who played just 11 minutes in the game. The Nets out-rebounded the Lakers 54-41, which included a 40-28 advantage on the defensive glass.
Even though it’s early, the game was a good sign of what’s possible with such a deep Brooklyn team. There were five different Nets that nabbed five or more boards in the game, with Millsap’s 10 and David Duke Jr’s seven leading the way.
“It was the first game to see where we are,” said Davis. “We got to do a better job defensively.”
The Nets scored at will often against Los Angeles, shooting 48.3% behind hot shooting nights from Thomas, Bruce Brown, Day’Ron Sharpe, and more.
Given who didn’t play in the contest, both teams will obviously look much different when the regular season comes around, but when it comes to becoming a cohesive unit quickly, the Lakers have more work to do. Their crazy personnel turnaround from last season all but assures it.
While adding talents like Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to the mix is clearly good on paper, it will likely take a while to figure out just how their totally revamped roster with huge personalities can gel. By keeping their core intact while adding key rotation pieces like Patty Mills and Millsap, the Nets shouldn’t have as much of a problem.
The Nets and Lakers are widely considered favorites in their conferences to strongly compete for an NBA title this season. While it was just preseason action, it’s safe to say the Nets’ depth is already showing its power.