Los Angeles Lakers Stat Monkey Brief: Lakers/Nets (2/5/13)
As the Los Angeles Lakers begin to rebound from a horrid start to the 2012-2013 season, questions loom over whether they can win consistently (or at all) on the road. L.A. currently sits at 22-26 on the year, but only 7-16 on the road and on the outside looking in to the NBA's Western Conference playoff race. Of those seven wins, only one came against a team better than .500, and that was an overtime win against Golden State with a Laker-heavy audience at Oracle Arena.
Tuesday's road matchup against the Brooklyn Nets is a crucial game for the Lakers - not only to climb back into the playoff race, but to prove to the skeptics they can beat good teams away from Staples Center. In their last few victories, the Lakers have jumped out to early leads only to surrender it in the fourth quarter. L.A. will need to close out better in Brooklyn, or else they're in for a unwelcome visit to the Big Apple.
When examining L.A.'s road woes, the defense is clearly the downfall. While not a good defensive team overall (20th in defensive rating), L.A.'s defense suffers in road tests. They give up a total of 105 points on the road, an average of eight more than what they give up at home. They also give up on average one more 3 point field goal, two more overall field goals, and commit two more turnovers on the road versus at home. Heading into Brooklyn Tuesday night, who is 14-5 under P.J Carlesimo and 7-1 in their last eight games, the Lakers will need to sure up on the defensive end of the ball in hopes to contain a star-studded Nets lineup.
Even as the Lakers attempt to turnaround their season, the recent struggles in the 4th quarter (even in victories) has to be a cause of concern. On the year, the Lakers give up 24.5 points per game to opponents in the 4th quarter; in the last three games, that total has jumped to 26 points per game, including giving away almost four points per game more on the road in the final frame. On the other hand, the Nets have struggled scoring in the 4th quarter of games, ranking 23rd in the NBA.
Whenever two big market teams clash, the game draws big attention. But when the lights are shining Tuesday night, whoever can win the battle down the stretch will come out victorious.