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Lakers player grades: L.A. falls apart in the second half against the Nets

Lately, whenever the Los Angeles Lakers have managed to string together two straight wins, the same question has hovered over them: Can they actually build momentum and start playing well for an extended stretch?

They defeated two good teams on Monday and Wednesday in the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, to get back to .500. They hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, and with a 16-24 record, the Nets looked like mere fodder for them at first.

Things seemed fairly easy for the Lakers in the first half when they shot a high percentage and led by as many as a dozen points. But they had only a six-point advantage at halftime and seemed to be in cruise control. They paid for that mindset when they went cold in the third quarter and fell behind by 12 points as Brooklyn was hot from 3-point range.

That deficit ballooned to 20 in the final period as the Nets had L.A. confused on defense by attacking the paint and making the extra pass to get good looks from the outside. Los Angeles contributed to its own demise by getting away from an up-tempo offense, standing around on offense, missing a number of chippies, committing some unforced turnovers and failing to execute its defensive strategy.

The Purple and Gold ended up losing a dispirited game by the final score of 130-112. Of all the Nets’ players, Cam Thomas was the one who killed L.A. the most. He was feeling it, especially in the second half, and he rode that irrational confidence to 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting in 31 minutes.

The Lakers simply seem unable to get out of their own way and play up to anything resembling their potential for more than a couple of games at a time.

Anthony Davis: B/B-plus

Davis made each of his first eight shot attempts, and he scored 17 points in the first half. For the game, he shot 9-of-13 and scored 26 points, to go along with 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocked shots. Brooklyn started to gang up on him defensively in the second half, and even though it often had a small lineup during that span, it was able to effectively neutralize Davis.

On the other end of the court, he wasn’t able to prevent Nic Claxton from doing his thing to the best of his ability. The Nets center had 14 rebounds and 22 points while going 11-of-16 from the floor.

Taurean Prince: C-plus

Prince shot decently, going 3-of-7 overall and 2-of-4 from 3-point range. But he was one of a number of Lakers who played matador defense, especially in the second half. The team was unable to make the proper defensive adjustments, whether it meant not collapsing into the paint too much off dribble penetration or applying too much defensive pressure on the perimeter.

Austin Reaves: D-plus

Reaves made just two of his first eight shot attempts and missed his first four 3-point tries. He wasn’t able to turn things around, as he finished 4-of-12 overall and 0-of-6 from downtown.

On the night, the guard had nine points, five assists, three rebounds and one steal.

D'Angelo Russell: B

Russell was hot early, as he converted his first three 3-point attempts and scored 13 points in the first quarter. He did a nice job of attacking in transition and playing downhill early in the shot clock.

Unfortunately, he got away from what allowed him to be so productive once the second half began. He attempted only four shots after halftime and made just one of them, and he made it all too easy for the Nets to stop him.

Russell finished 7-of-14 overall and 3-of-5 from downtown, giving him 20 points to go along with seven assists. But his impact wasn’t as great as those numbers suggest.

LeBron James: C-minus

James had a quiet first quarter, but he then made his first two 3-pointers, both of them coming early in the second quarter. In all, he scored 14 points in the second quarter to help keep L.A. in front.

However, he cooled off considerably in the second half and missed a number of chippies. He was just 3-of-11 in the second half, limiting him to 24 points in 34 minutes.

The third quarter would’ve been a good time for James to assert himself in order to make sure the Lakers regained control of the game. But he didn’t do so, and he was one of a number of key players who seemed to compound things when Brooklyn made its run.

Rui Hachimura: F

Hachimura shot nothing but blanks on Friday. He missed all of his six shot attempts and went scoreless, and his only positive contribution in 15 minutes was two rebounds and one assist.

Jarred Vanderbilt: B-plus

In 19 minutes, Vanderbilt brought down five rebounds, and he surprised everyone by making back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third quarter. Overall, he scored 10 points and made all of his five shot attempts, making it the first time since Game 4 of the first round of last season’s playoffs that he scored in double figures.

However, he didn’t have his usual impact defensively. At least once, he gambled on defense, which compromised his teammates and made it too easy for Brooklyn to pick them apart.

Christian Wood: D-plus

Wood did a good job on the boards with four rebounds in 11 minutes, and he also had three assists, one steal and one block. But his shot was almost non-existent against Brooklyn. He missed all but one of his six tries, and he scored just five points.

Max Christie: B-plus

Christie gave L.A. a boost by hitting two of his three shots, all of which were from 3-point land. In 19 minutes, he scored six points and added two rebounds and one assist.

Maxwell Lewis, Jaxson Hayes, Jalen Hood-Schifino: Incomplete

All three players got three minutes on the court in garbage time. All three went scoreless, while Hood-Schifino had one rebound and one assist.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire