The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 109-98 on Thursday night.
Because LA was without Anthony Davis and Brooklyn was without Kevin Durant, it was mostly agreed to by everyone that this wasn’t quite the NBA Finals preview that folks originally billed it as.
Still, the match-up was interesting if for no other reason than the Kyrie Irving vs LeBron James subplot. This past offseason Irving famously shaded James, only for James to publicly come out and immediately return the favor.
Unfortunately, because both teams were shorthanded, the words leading up to the game didn’t quite live up to what happened on the court.
After the outing, Irving came out with a bold message for James and the Lakers.
That message: We’ll meet again.
“We knew that Bron was going to go out and try to score a lot of points, so, we were relying on the other guys to make shots around him,” he said.
“So, we just wanted to come out and show why we’ve been able to go on this little streak and that’s just committing to the other end of the floor. Just being there for each other, rebounding, boxing out, doing the little details that create separation.
“We’ll see them down the line again and we look forward to it, with a whole entire healthy Lakers team, that’s what we really wanted and I know everybody wants that. I’m looking forward to the challenge and seeing them down the line.”
Irving ultimately finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds, while James Harden scored 23 points and Joe Harris nailed six threes en route to a 21-point showing.
James put up 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the losing effort, while Kyle Kuzma chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“Missing AD and then our starting point guard in Dennis, it’s a big blow for us,” James said after the game.
“But they’re missing key players as well. Neither team was full strength. We just didn’t play up to our capabilities tonight. Give them credit.”
The Lakers clearly didn’t have the horses to compete with a Brooklyn squad that boasted two stars in Irving and Harden, plus a sharpshooter having a hot night in Harris.
Klay knows how to do Valentine’s Day right. https://t.co/Gxt1gRLTX2
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 15, 2021
While Davis returning should fix that to some degree, upgrades to the roster are probably necessary if the defending champs hope to repeat.
Fortunately, the Lakers are one of two teams in serious contention for Andre Drummond and Mo Bamba, have been linked to a potential J.J. Redick trade, and are one of several groups in the running for Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin.
If any of those trades and/or buyout signings ultimately come to fruition, they’ll be much better suited to compete with the Nets when and if they face off in the NBA Finals.