James Harden, Patty Mills Combine for 70 Points as Nets Hold off LeBron James, Lakers

Doric SamDecember 26, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) is shown against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

In their first game in a week, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 122-115 on Christmas Day. The Nets had their previous three games postponed because of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the NBA.

In his first game since Dec. 10, James Harden led the way with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Brooklyn improved to 22-9. Patty Mills added 34 points with eight three-pointers. The Nets led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter before the Lakers came back to tie the game. But Harden and company were able to hold on for the win.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

😱😱😱 <a href="https://t.co/vYkbnCzrtv">pic.twitter.com/vYkbnCzrtv</a>

The Nets were without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who are among seven players on the team in health and safety protocols.

The Lakers fell to 16-18 and have now lost a season-high five consecutive games. LeBron James led Los Angeles with 39 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. 

Notable Player Stats

G James Harden, BKN: 36 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists

G Patty Mills, BKN: 34 points (8-of-13 3-pt FG), 7 assists

F LeBron James, LAL: 39 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists

G Malik Monk, LAL: 20 points (off bench)

F Carmelo Anthony, LAL: 17 points, 11 rebounds (off bench)

G Russell Westbrook, LAL: 13 points (4-of-20 FG), 12 rebounds, 11 assists

Brooklyn's Backcourt Powers Short-handed Team to Victory

The way the game started, you wouldn't have guessed that the Nets were playing their first game in seven days. Brooklyn came out firing early and often, scoring 38 points in the first quarter on 66.7 percent shooting.

The Nets' starting backcourt of Harden and Patty Mills was outstanding to start the game. They helped Brooklyn build a 17-point lead in the first half before Los Angeles made a comeback.

Harden looked comfortable as the team's primary scorer and playmaker, making sound decisions on when to call his own number and when to distribute. Mills delivered when the ball came to him, knocking down three of his first six shots from beyond the arc. Harden (23 points) and Mills (19) combined for 42 of Brooklyn's 66 first-half points.


James Harden in his bag early in his return!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAXmas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAXmas</a> on ABC/ESPN <a href="https://t.co/YPHhjDrzbR">pic.twitter.com/YPHhjDrzbR</a>

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Patty Mills goes 5-6 in the first quarter <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAAllstar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAAllstar</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Patty_Mills?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Patty_Mills</a> <a href="https://t.co/boJQv2ZX86">pic.twitter.com/boJQv2ZX86</a>


Back-to-back 4-point plays for the <a href="https://twitter.com/BrooklynNets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BrooklynNets</a> before halftime! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAXmas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAXmas</a> on ABC/ESPN <a href="https://t.co/j5ITanHYCF">pic.twitter.com/j5ITanHYCF</a>

The duo kept it going in the second half. When the Lakers came back to take the lead in the third quarter, Harden and Mills came up with timely buckets and assists to help Brooklyn pull away.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

These Two 👏👏👏 <a href="https://t.co/lSTxdaZ5f6">pic.twitter.com/lSTxdaZ5f6</a>

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Shots🆙 <a href="https://t.co/iYaPNFrEnb">pic.twitter.com/iYaPNFrEnb</a>


Patty Mills is taking over.<br><br>Shooting, attacking, passing...the Nets guard is up to 25 points and 6 dimes through 3Q!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAXmas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAXmas</a> on ABC/ESPN <a href="https://t.co/naXKA8tzhX">pic.twitter.com/naXKA8tzhX</a>

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

That's 100 3's on the season for <a href="https://twitter.com/Patty_Mills?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Patty_Mills</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAAllstar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAAllstar</a> <a href="https://t.co/6Q0TfPKZTE">pic.twitter.com/6Q0TfPKZTE</a>

After falling behind 70-68, Brooklyn ended the third quarter with a 34-12 avalanche to take a 20-point lead entering the fourth. Los Angeles didn't go down easily and cut the lead to single digits, but Mills came up big once again.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Patty doesn’t take holidays off. 💯 <a href="https://t.co/8JFDbZh54Y">pic.twitter.com/8JFDbZh54Y</a>


PATTY MILLS SETS THE <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAXmas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAXmas</a> RECORD WITH HIS 8TH THREE!<br><br>1 minute left on ABC/ESPN <a href="https://t.co/oOxrdeSXnG">pic.twitter.com/oOxrdeSXnG</a>

Thanks to the success of Harden and Mills, opportunities opened up for players like Bruce Brown and DeAndre Bembry, who both scored in double figures with 16 and 15 points.

Harden and Mills did a great job leading a short-handed Brooklyn team and taking pressure off the younger players. Saturday's performance is a good sign for the Nets, as they will be even more dangerous when they're back at full strength.

Lakers' Pair of Comebacks Fall Short

There's no sugarcoating this one. The Lakers should have won Saturday's game. Yes, Los Angeles is without star big man Anthony Davis. But the Nets were playing without an MVP candidate in Durant and another All-Star in Irving. On paper, this game was set up perfectly for the Lakers to end their losing skid.

But they couldn't.

Los Angeles allowed the Nets to open up a 17-point lead in the first half. Instead of focusing in on stopping Brooklyn's top two scoring options Harden and Mills, the Lakers allowed them to get into a rhythm early.

The Lakers managed to claw their way back into the game and trailed by just four at halftime. They even managed to take the lead in the third quarter, but it quickly vanished because of the team's lack of discipline.

Defensive lapses have plagued the Los Angeles throughout the season, and Saturday night was no different. Brooklyn shot 61.9 percent from the field in the third quarter to build a 20-point lead. It's the third consecutive game that the Lakers have trailed by 20 points or more.

Not going down without a fight, James and company had another comeback in them. Los Angeles went on a 22-3 run and eventually tied the game. But it just wasn't enough as Brooklyn was able to get stops when it counted most.

Saturday's loss will be hard for the Lakers to get over. The team showed fight to comeback from double-digit deficits twice in the same game, but there are no consolation prizes in the NBA.

Los Angeles is a flawed team that has multiple issues to address on both ends of the floor if it hopes to be in contention for a title this year.

What's Next?

The Nets will remain in Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Monday. The Lakers will look to end their skid on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets.