Brooklyn — once home to Biggie Smalls, the Dodgers and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer — is now home of Miss America, the hit HBO series “Girls” and a plethora of organic food purveyors.
Perhaps then it’s only fitting that the Lakers will have a chance to cement their season turnaround, after a season filled with shifts and restarts, in a part of America so representative of drastic changes.
Kobe and company visit Brooklyn Tuesday for the first time ever to face that borough’s new basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets. After winning five of their last six, the Lakers now enter the toughest part of their seven-game Grammy Trip with games at Brooklyn, Boston, Charlotte and Miami.
The Lakers (22-26) are just four games behind Houston for that last playoff spot in the West. Winning against the Nets, who at 28 and 19 are fifth in the East, would put a cherry on the Lakers’ recent surge that includes big wins over Golden State (30-17) and OKC (36-12).
LAKERS LEAD SERIES (1-0)
The Lakers last faced Brooklyn Nov. 20 at Staples Center, defeating the then surging Nets 90 to 95 thanks to some key clutch throw shooting by Kobe Bryant.
It was Mike D’Antoni’s first game on the bench as Lakers head coach and one of then Nets head coach Avery Johnson’s last games. Johnson was fired late December after Brooklyn slipped from 11-4 to 14-14. His replacement, P.J. Carlesimo, is 14-5 as interim head coach.
Bryant was 6 of 6 from free throw line and finished the game with 25 points, four rebounds and five assists. That came just two-days after racking up his 18th triple double of his career against Houston. Kobe, and his new pass-first persona, has come very close to a triple double in the last few games.
Dwight Howard, who will sit Tuesday with an aggravated shoulder injury, pitched in 23 points and 15 rebounds in the last matchup against the Nets. Pau Gasol, who has seen his numbers go up in Howard’s absence, finished that game with 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Like D’Anotni, Pau Gasol made his Lakers debut against the Nets in outstanding fashion scoring 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting and pulling in 12 rebounds to go with his four assists.
While the Brooklyn Nets are new, the New Jersey Nets have been around since 1967 and were original members of ABA.
Tuesday’s game will be the 77th between the two, with the Lakers leading the all-time series at 57 and 19. In fact, the Lakers have only had losing seasons to the Nets four times.
The New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets have lost their last nine matchups against the Lakers dating back to Feb. 5, 2008, making Tuesday’s match an anniversary of sorts.
Let’s hope the Lakers get a win as an anniversary present.
You can follow Erick Galindo on Twitter at @erickgeee.