It’s not surprising. Life without LeBron James and Anthony Davis is never easy for the Lakers.
They came into Monday’s game as big underdogs and indeed lost to the Brooklyn Nets, 121-104, to fall five games below .500 and 0-2 on their annual Grammy trip.
The Lakers (23-28) struggled to score points without James and Davis, and got trounced by the Nets’ bench, which rang up a staggering 66 points.
Nets’ guard Kyrie Irving got hot late to finish with 26 points but it was reserves Patty Mills (21 points), Cam Thomas (21 points) and Yuta Watanabe (12 points) who carried the game for the Nets.
The Lakers, on the other hand, had a hard time making shots. Their top three guards — Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schroder and Pat Beverley — combined to shoot 22.2%.
“All three of those guys have had big moments all season helping us win big games,” Lakers Coach Darvin Ham said, although Monday wasn’t one of those nights, unfortunately for the Lakers.
It didn’t help that James sat out because of ankle soreness, which was not a new injury and appeared to be merely a day to rest. Davis also rested after playing two games since returning from a five-week absence because of a stress reaction in his right foot.
The Lakers trailed by 19 in the second quarter but answered with a 14-0 run early in the third quarter. They even took a seven-point lead but faded from there. Just not enough offense without Davis and James.
Two areas hurt the Lakers in particular. They were outscored by 15 points from three-point range and were not sharp from the free-throw line, making only 23 of 37.
If there was a memorable Lakers moment, it was Westbrook carving out a piece of history for himself. His pass to Bryant for a dunk pushed him past Gary Payton for 10th on the NBA all-time assist list with 8,967.
“We definitely acknowledged it after the game,” Lakers Coach Darvin Ham said. “That’s a hell of a feat.”
Westbrook could easily move into ninth this season by passing Isiah Thomas, who has 9,061 career assists.
Westbrook finished with 17 points and 10 assists Monday but made only five of 15 shots.
Lakers center Thomas Bryant filled in admirably for Davis with 18 points and nine rebounds. Wenyen Gabriel reappeared successfully after going unused two days earlier against Boston and playing only one minute the game before that. He had 11 points in 16 minutes.
Recent Lakers acquisition Rui Hachimura scored 16 points in his first start this season.
“Those two guys were out today so I was trying to be aggressive offensively,” Hachimura said.
The Lakers’ road trip continues Tuesday against the New York Knicks.