Lakers, who seem to have everything under control, welcome the sinking Nets.

Lakers, who seem to have everything under control, welcome the sinking Nets.

The Los Angeles Lakers seem to be back to their best selves after sending and seemingly receiving signals. They will have another opportunity to demonstrate this on Friday when the Brooklyn Nets come.

Over the first three and a half months of the season, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has moved around a few players. He removed Austin Reaves from the starting lineup early on and D’Angelo Russell from the starting lineup earlier this month.

Early in January, there was also a report stating that players were becoming more disengaged with Ham and his rotations. Star player LeBron James’ candid assessment during a Jan. 5 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies: “I mean, we just suck right now.”

A few weeks later, the Lakers had won four of their last six games, with Russell and Reaves making their way back into the starting lineup during that run. It looks like one big happy family. There have been victories against elite Western clubs including the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Clippers.

16 of Russell’s 29 points, which led the Lakers to a decisive second-half lead in their 127-110 win against the Mavs on Wednesday. Reaves finished with 14 points overall on 6 of 8 shots. James finished with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists, while Anthony Davis almost achieved a triple-double with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists.

Happy family, indeed.

“We have enough weapons that we shouldn’t have to ever force anything,” James said.

“It’s not like we’re going out and being selfish with the shots,” Davis said. While we’re doing it and making the appropriate plays, we’re having fun.”

The Nets, who are on a three-game tour across the West Coast, opened their trip by losing 105-103 in Portland on Wednesday, sending them into Los Angeles fresh off their second straight one-possession loss. They lost to the Miami Heat on Monday 96-95 in overtime before they left.

Anfernee Simons of the Trail Blazers hit a shot in the lane with 0.2 seconds remaining, driving past Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie and shooting over Nic Claxton. Bridges scored 21 points and Dinwiddie contributed 19.

After criticizing the Blazers’ ability to go to the hoop earlier in the game, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn decided not to overstate the significance of the game’s pivotal play.

As Vaughn put it, “It’s an accumulation of plays.” “They were able to get to our rim 36 times (with) 16 second-chance points so it’s the plays that happen in the first, second, third and fourth quarter.”

After a collision with Portland’s Jabari Walker in the second half, Bridges lost some time and even took a break in the locker room, but he finally made a comeback while nursing a lower-leg contusion. With 432 straight games played, he leads the NBA.

Bridges will be “assessed,” according to Vaughn, who did not guarantee that the guard/forward will be available for Friday’s game.

The Nets have now dropped nine of their last ten games and four in a row. As of December 14, they are just 3–14.

“There are just stretches of the game, whether it’s a lack of focus, (the opposing) team getting to a 50-50 ball or an offensive rebound that kicks the momentum to their direction,” Vaughn said. “… It’s an accumulation of plays and really valuing every single possession, not leaving anything on the table.”

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