The Los Angeles Lakers moved to 22-7 on Tuesday night with a victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, most of the talk after the game was about what’s up next for the defending champs — a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.
The Nets have assembled the latest NBA super-squad, with two former MVPs in Kevin Durant and James Harden, as well as mercurial All-Star Kyrie Irving. The trio combines for over 80 points per game.
Facing a team laden with talent is nothing new for Lakers superstars LeBron James, which he reminded the media of when asked about the Nets’ trio.
“Um, have we forgot about KD, Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) already?” James told reporters. “I mean, there you go. There you go right there.”
Lakers Will Be Without Anthony Davis Vs. Nets
The matchup has been dubbed as a possible Finals preview, but injuries on both sides might dampen the excitement, just a bit. The Lakers will be missing star forward Anthony Davis, who is dealing with an Achilles issue and a calf strain.
Kevin Durant (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (back) both missed Brooklyn’s game against Phoenix on Tuesday. With his co-stars out, Harden led the way with 38 points in a massive comeback win against the streaking Suns.
“It’s always exciting for me to go against some of the best guys in the game — and they got three of them,” James said. “They got three of the best guys in the game. Definitely would love to be full when you’re playing against a team like that and see, like, at that point in the season, how you match up — how you match up against some of the best teams in the league. And, obviously, we won’t be full on Thursday. But, other than that, yeah, I love going out there and just being out on the floor with some of the best to play this game.”
Montrezl Harrell on Nets Matchup: ‘I Don’t Really Care’
The Lakers suffered back-to-back losses at the end of January, but have been on a tear since, winning eight of their last nine. They’re also 3-0 in games Davis has missed during that span.
The latest victory against the Timberwolves showed off the depth LA added in the offseason, with Marc Gasol, Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell — all new additions — joining James as double-digit scorers. Schroder scored 24 to go with 4 steals, Harrell scored 17 with 6 rebounds in just 18 minutes off the bench, and Gasol scored 11 points — just one off his season-high.
Harrell echoed James’ sentiment about playing the Nets next and made sure not to emphasize the implications of the high-profile matchup.
“Honestly, I don’t really care,” Harrell said. “We go into every game with a game plan, know offensively, defensively what we want to do in order to win that game, and that’s going to be the same thing we’re going to have to do when we play on Thursday.
“There’s nothing no different. We’re not circling that game. We’re not putting any extra emphasis on that game. It’s just like any other game — we’re taking it one game at a time. We’re still learning, we’re still growing and we’re still building with one another, and we’re gonna have to do it to a higher standard with losing one of our big pieces [in Davis].”
Lakers Don’t Expect Davis Back Before All-Star Break
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed on Tuesday the timeline Wojnarowski put forth for Davis’ return.
“He’s going to be re-evaluated when we get back, but it’s unlikely that we bring him back before the break. But we’ll see,” Vogel told reporters. “Certainly we’re going to be cautious with this type of injury, and we’ll see how he responds to treatment and re-evaluate him in a couple weeks.”
Davis is averaging 22.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks this season.