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Nets-Lakers Preview 2009-11-29 News New Jersey Nets

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News » Nets-Lakers Preview 2009-11-29

Nets-Lakers Preview 2009-11-29

Nets-Lakers Preview 2009-11-29As the New Jersey Nets try to avoid tying the worst start in NBA history, perhaps their only advantage is they'll have an extra day of rest over the Los Angeles Lakers, who will play the second of back-to-back games.

Aside from that, it seems there's little keeping the Nets from losing their 17th straight to open the season Sunday night at the Staples Center.

With a loss to the Lakers, New Jersey (0-16) would join the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers during the lockout-shortened 1999 season as the only teams to start 0-17.

To avoid reaching that point, New Jersey will first need a better first-half performance than they delivered in Friday night's 109-96 defeat to Sacramento, the third in a four-game Western road trip.

While matching the franchise's longest losing streak, the Nets fell behind by as many as 22 points late in the second quarter. However, they rallied to cut the deficit to six in the third quarter and seven in the fourth before allowing the Kings to pull away.

"We have to come out with the same type of intensity we had in the second half no matter if it's the Lakers or the Knicks," guard Devin Harris said. "Yeah, they're the defending champions, but they can be beat. If we give the effort we need to, we'll keep ourselves in the game."

The Nets haven't kept themselves in too many games while averaging an NBA-low 85.6 points and shooting a league-worst 40.3 percent from the field. Ten of their losses have come by double digits, including each game during this trip.

A sore right groin has limited Harris, the team's leading scorer last season, to six games and three starts. In his return to the starting lineup Friday, he scored a season-high 25 points despite shooting 6 for 22.

Harris shot 31.0 percent in New Jersey's two losses to Los Angeles last season, including a 5-for-16 performance in a 120-93 road defeat on Nov. 25, 2008. The point guard, however, topped 20 points against the Lakers for the first time in his career with a team-high 21 in that game.

Kobe Bryant has also struggled with his shooting against the Nets as his 39.3 percent in 19 meetings is his worst against any opponent. He's been held to 10.7 points and 26.5 percent shooting over the last three matchups, but the Lakers have won them all, thanks to Pau Gasol.

Gasol has averaged 28.7 points on 71.7 percent shooting against the Nets since joining Los Angeles in the middle of the 2007-08 season.

The Lakers (12-3) enter Sunday's matchup having scored 100 points in five straight wins. They delivered their highest point total of the season in Saturday night's 130-97 victory at Golden State. In his fourth game back from a strained right hamstring, Gasol had 22 points to lead seven players in double figures.

"Pau's just being Pau," said Bryant, who scored 20 for the fifth straight game. "He's one of the best in the game. We missed that."

Los Angeles is 1-1 in the second of back-to-back games this season, winning in overtime at Houston on Nov. 4 and losing at Denver on Nov. 13. The Lakers, however, haven't dropped consecutive finales of back-to-back scenarios since November 2007.

The Nets, meanwhile, have dropped 16 straight road games dating to a 115-89 win over New York on March 18.

New Jersey has also lost 27 of 35 all-time road games against Los Angeles. Its loss at the Staples Center last season followed a 102-100 win there on Nov. 25, 2007.

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Added: November 29, 2009


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