Nets at Lakers
The Brooklyn Nets are getting accustomed to playing on a bigger stage following the franchise's offseason move from New Jersey. The lights will be even brighter when they arrive in Hollywood for a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday in what is expected to be Mike D'Antoni's coaching debut with Kobe Bryant and company. D'Antoni, who is recuperating from knee-replacement surgery, had planned to be on the bench for Sunday's home win against Houston, but opted to watch his second straight game from the locker room amid concerns of a lack of mobility in the event players crashed into the bench.
While Los Angeles has won four of five since coach Mike Brown was fired on Nov. 9, Brooklyn has been even hotter. The Nets ran their winning streak to five games with a 99-90 victory at Sacramento on Sunday in the first of a three-game California road trip. Brooklyn will get its first glance at center Dwight Howard in a Lakers uniform. The Nets were rebuffed in numerous attempts to acquire the former Orlando Magic superstar before opting to trade for All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson in the offseason.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles), NBA TV
ABOUT THE NETS (6-2): Brooklyn had been playing shorthanded with injuries to forward Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks, but both finally returned to the lineup and the added depth led to a 52-point effort from the bench against the Kings, led by Andray Blatche with 22. Center Brook Lopez had been mentioned as the main bargaining chip in last year's trade talks for Howard, but he suffered a broken foot just before the start of last season. Lopez had a string of three straight 20-point efforts snapped in Sacramento but is averaging 22.8 points lifetime against the Lakers.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (5-5): It may not exactly rival the "Showtime" days of Magic Johnson and the Laker teams of the 1980s, but Los Angeles clearly has embraced the up-tempo style instituted by D'Antoni since he started running practices late last week. Kobe Bryant collected his first triple-double since November 2010 with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against the Rockets. "He just lets us go out there and play," Bryant said of D'Antoni. "We're just picking apart the defense. We're putting the defense in predicaments where they have to choose and we're making them pay."
1. Los Angeles has won the last eight meetings against the Nets.
2. The Nets are seeking their first six-game winning streak since running off 14 straight toward the end of the 2006 season.
3. The Lakers averaged 116.5 points in the last two games despite the absences of starting point guard Steve Nash (leg) and backup Steve Blake (abdominal).