In what has become a theme for the New Jersey Nets, they gave a superior team all they could handle, but were unable to come away with a win.
Facing the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, the Nets faced a 10-point deficit at halftime, but kept fighting and even took a single-digit lead in the fourth quarter.
What has defined New Jersey so far this year has been their lack of late game execution, and it was again evident against the Lakers. Simply put, LA knows how to win and the Nets don't.
After taking an 83-82 lead with just over five minutes left, New Jersey was outscored 17-10 to close out the game, losing 99-92.
The Lakers were able to execute their offense and the Nets were not. Los Angeles also got to the free throw line 29 times and got 24 of their points from there. New Jersey by comparison hit 16-of-19 free throw attempts.
LA was also more opportunistic in making open three-point shots, going seven-of-16 from downtown. New Jersey got some deep looks, but went just four-of-20 from behind the arc.
The Nets got balanced scoring with four players in double-figures. Brook Lopez led the way with 25 and also added in nine rebounds, a nice number to see.
For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant scored 32 points and Lamar Odom tallied 22.
Overall, it was a good effort from New Jersey. They held the Lakers to 41.5 percent shooting and even out-rebounded them 45-42.
They were unable to pull out a win, but they're obviously much more competitive than they were a year ago. They have four winnable games next week, so we'll see if efforts such as this one can serve as a springboard to better things.
We'll begin to find out Tuesday against Philadelphia.