The Lakers (1-4) finally got their first victory of the 2015-16 season, defeating the winless Nets (0-6) in Brooklyn, 104-98, on Friday night.
Kobe Bryant made probably his last NBA appearance at Barclays Center, in front of a mostly adoring crowd. In 31 minutes, Bryant scored 18 points on five-of-16 shooting to lead the Lakers.
Guards Jordan Clarkson and rookie D’Angelo Russell scored 16 apiece, a career high for Russell, who made six of nine shots. Russell also had three steals but didn’t log an assist in 23 1/2 minutes.
Both teams seemingly tried to lose the game in the final minute, with the Lakers turning the ball over while inbounding with a three-point lead, followed by the Nets failing to get even that far because of a five-second violation.
The Lakers had yielded 116.8 points a game going into Friday, but were able to hold the Nets below triple digits. While that’s a step in the right direction, the Nets are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league.
With defense in mind, Coach Byron Scott changed his rotation, giving rookie Larry Nance Jr. and Metta World Peace their first opportunities to play. Tarik Black also got backup minutes at center, which meant a more limited role for Brandon Bass (just 3 1/2 minutes) while Marcelo Huertas and Ryan Kelly did not play.
Nance set career highs with six points, three rebounds and a steal in 15 1/2 minutes. World Peace helped spark the Lakers defensively as the team overcame an early 10-point deficit. The veteran finished with three points and three rebounds, but led the Lakers with a plus/minus of 12.
The Nets were led by Brook Lopez with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Joe Johnson scored 22, Jarrett Jack added 18 (with 12 assists) and Thaddeus Young at 14. Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was the game’s leading rebounder with 11.
Nick Young and Lou Williams both added 10 points off the bench for the Lakers, who shot 42.3% from the field, 30.4% (seven of 23) from three-point range and made 31 of 40 from the free-throw line. Brooklyn shot 43% from the field, making only three of 19 three-point attempts. The Nets held a 46-40 rebounding advantage, with a 14-5 edge on the offensive glass.
Next up for the Lakers is a visit to the New York Knicks (2-4) on Sunday. The Nets travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks (3-3) on Saturday.
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.