The Lakers led by as many as 10 points in the opening quarter, but Brooklyn climbed back and cut the deficit to 38-35 entering the second. That would be a trend throughout the contest. The third quarter saw the Lakers with a 90-77 advantage, only for the Nets to put together a 12-2 run and make it a one-possession game once again.
The Lakers were finally able to pull away in the fourth quarter, entering with a 10-point lead and building from there. The Western Conference leaders' largest lead was 25 points.
While Anthony Davis was able to start despite recently tweaking his bruised gluteus maximus, starting center JaVale McGee (flu-like symptoms) was kept out. Dwight Howard started for McGee and recorded his fifth double-double of the season.
The Nets were without veteran reserve center DeAndre Jordan (dislocated finger), but All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was available after missing Monday night's matchup against Philadelphia with hamstring tightness and a 26-game absence before that because of a right shoulder impingement.
Los Angeles improved to 36-9 and cushioned its lead atop the Western Conference, while the Nets dropped to 18-25 as they cling to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
LAL F LeBron James: 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
LAL F Kyle Kuzma: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
LAL F Anthony Davis: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
LAL C Dwight Howard: 14 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks
BKN G Kyrie Irving: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
BKN F Taurean Prince: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
BKN G Caris LeVert: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
BKN F Wilson Chandler: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Lakers Sink Season-High 19 Threes to Keep Brooklyn at Bay
Most nights, Brooklyn's 21-of-46 (45.7 percent) shooting from three-point range would be enough. But not on a night during which the Lakers set a season high beyond the arc:
L.A. finished 19-of-38 (50 percent) from deep, and eight different Lakers bucketed at least one three-point shot: James (3-of-6), Davis (1-of-3), Kuzma (3-of-5), Danny Green (4-of-7), Jared Dudley (2-of-3), Rajon Rondo (1-of-3), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (3-of-3) and Alex Caruso (2-of-2).
Entering Thursday, the Lakers ranked 11th in three-point percentage at 35.9 percent. Based on that, this type of performance might not be a reliable way to win night in and night out. The thing is, though, L.A. isn't struggling to find ways to win:
If anything, winning this way puts the rest of the NBA on notice.
Davis was not quite back at full strength. Howard was starting for the first time this season. The Nets shot 44.0 percent from the field, connected on 45.7 percent of their threes and outscored L.A. 38-23 in fast-break points. And the Lakers still won by 15.
Brooklyn Wastes Solid Bench Performance to Extend Losing Streak
The Nets have lost 12 of their last 14 outings.
"I mean, it's transparent," Irving told reporters last week, referencing the Nets' needs. "It's out there. It's glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level."
The 27-year-old NBA champion added, "Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it's pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will complement myself, [Kevin Durant], [Jordan], [Garrett Temple], [Spencer Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we'll see how that evolves."
Irving was the Nets' leading scorer against the Lakers and was complemented by 55 bench points, including a season-high 15 from Chandler, and Brooklyn still lost by double digits for the fourth time in five games.
James rubbed what the Nets are lacking in his former teammate's face, too:
It will be impossible to accurately gauge these Nets until Durant debuts next season, but they aren't exactly setting an appetizing table for the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Both teams will return to action Saturday night. Brooklyn will travel to take on the Detroit Pistons, and L.A. will finish its five-game road trip at Philadelphia.