Unless something nefarious is going on beneath the surface, wins are never guaranteed in sporting events. Yet, there are match-ups where one team is clearly the favorite and by displaying their usual level of competence should emerge victorious over their overmatched opponent. Such was the situation on Sunday night when the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers squared off; overall, the Nets have been a much more capable NBA team this season. Therefore, when the Nets defeated the Lakers by the score of 108-102, they were simply handling their business, even though the handling of their business proved to be a bit more difficult than it should have been.
For the season, the Lakers have been outscored by an average of 12.5 points per game, which provides some evidence that the Nets should have won more comfortably than they did and certainly should not have left the game in doubt so late in the contest. With 2:06 remaining in the game, a free throw by Lakers guard Jodie Meeks closed the Lakers' deficit to six points, allowing the Nets opponent plenty of time to further cut into the Nets lead.
Fortunately for the Nets, the Lakers' comeback attempt was sabotaged by the very same phenomenon that kept the Lakers in the game until late in the fourth quarter; namely, there was a complete lack of defense being played on both sides of the court. Benefiting from the disappointing defensive efficiency of the Lakers, the Nets went on to score nine points in their seven offensive possessions after Meeks's free throw.
Overall, the Nets scored 115.6 points per 100 possessions, an above-average rate that was helped by the combination of the Lakers' defensive woes and the heroics of Nets guard Deron Williams and forward Paul Pierce, who combined efficiency with a heavy offensive burden. Williams put on a virtuoso offensive performance, pouring in 30 points on 16 field goal attempts and 13 free throw attempts and producing 137 points per 100 possessions. Pierce chipped in with 25 points and produced 116 points per 100 possessions.
With the Nets making a mockery of playing defense as they allowed the normally offensively anemic Lakers to put up 109.2 points per 100 possessions, the team absolutely needed every bit of their impressive scoring output. Otherwise, they would have run the risk of incurring an embarrassing defeat to one of the also-rans in the NBA.
Even though the Nets won a game they should have won, it was not a victory of an impressive nature. Instead, it just provided further evidence that the Nets do not play defense with enough intensity to really make noise this season among the upper echelon teams. If the Nets cannot even stop the Lakers from pretty much scoring at will, there is really no hope for them when they actually face good teams. Still, Sunday's win keeps the Nets firmly in a position to reach the playoffs.