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Lakers fend off the Nets, 125-118

The Lakers' Jordan Clarkson is fouled by the Brooklyn Nets' Yogi Ferrell while making a basket in the third quarter at Staples Center on Nov. 15.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

It wasn’t pretty — or even close to it — but the Lakers outlasted the Nets and won, 125-118, at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

The Lakers (7-5) were paced by three of their five starters, while the Nets (4-7) hung around with a cast of relentless up-and-comers surrounding a problem in the paint. Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell finished with a season-high 32 points; center Timofey Mozgov also set a season high with 20, and power forward Julius Randle collected a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

Nets center Brook Lopez, who got the night off in his team’s 32-point loss to the Clippers on Monday, poured in 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. It was not enough to run with the Lakers for 60 minutes, who improved to 4-1 at home on the season.

Russell was steaming hot out of the gate, hitting his first five three-pointers on his way to 17 first-quarter points. Mozgov also hit an early stride, netting eight in the first. Together they scored the Lakers’ first 23 points, but the Nets caught up while the two sat on the bench.

With the Lakers’ second unit in the game, and playing uncharacteristically lethargic basketball, the Nets mounted a 8-0 run to grab a two-point lead after one. The teams then traded leads for half of the second quarter, and Lakers Coach Luke Walton went back to Russell and Mozgov with about six minutes until halftime.

At first, it seemed the early rhythm had been drained by their time on the bench. Mozgov tried a turnaround hook shot that bounced out. Russell excited the crowd with a pull-up three in transition, but that bounced out too.

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Russell did click in spurts as the half wound down, but he was most effective as a distributor. He assisted on two Nick Young makes — the first a fall-away jumper, the second a transition three — in the final minutes, and that was enough to give the Lakers a 56-51 halftime lead.

In the third, the Lakers maintained a lead with more of the same. Mozgov went to the bench with 16 points, four more than his previous season-high. Russell hit two more threes. Randle steadily paced the Lakers — knifing inside for high-percentage looks, skying up for rebounds and facilitating to his teammates. When he subbed out with 2:36 left in the third, he had 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

But the Nets did not fold easily.

Lopez, taking advantage of a slow-to-close-out Mozgov, hit back-to-back threes in the middle of the third. Joe Harris followed suit, rattling in one of his own. Yogi Ferrell, fresh off the bench, followed that by canning a three that trimmed the Lakers’ lead to six.

That lead swelled and then shrunk. And then it swelled and shrunk again.

Russell and Mozgov hopped off the bench with six minutes left in the fourth and the Lakers needing one last push to stave off a scrappy Nets effort. The Nets continued to find points — a Ferrell three here, a Bojan Bogdanovic driving dunk there — but the same three Lakers provided a paltry parting punch.

After a Randle mid-range make, Russell turnaround jumper and two free throws from Mozgov, the Lakers had a cushion capable of withstanding a few more blows.

As Russell stepped to the free-throw line with 10 seconds on the clock, fans started toward the exits. An uninspiring, unceremonious win was a win nonetheless.


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