Somebody had to win.
The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 104-98 Friday to secure their first win of the season. Both teams entered the game winless. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the ninth matchup of winless teams with at least four losses in NBA history.
With the win, the Lakers avoided starting 0-5 for the second consecutive season. This marks a significant shift for the franchise, which had not started 0-5 since 1957-58 before last season.
Believe it or not, the NBA's two highest paid players squared off in this game. Most fans are aware that Kobe Bryant's salary of $25 million is tops in the league, but did you know Joe Johnson is right behind him at $24.9 million? That's a lot of money for a combined 1-10 record this season.
Bryant did lead the Lakers with 18 points Friday. He was part of a balanced Lakers scoring attack that included a career-high 16 points from rookie D'Angelo Russell. Johnson scored 22 points but only six of those came in the fourth quarter in the loss.
Improved Lakers defense
For the first time this season, the Lakers were able to hold an opponent under 100 points. They entered the game giving up a league-high 116.8 opponent points per game.
The key was defending the 3-pointer, as the Nets shot 3-of-19 from long range (15.8 percent). Only twice since the start of last season have the Lakers held an opponent to a lower 3-point percentage in a game.
Nets in trouble going forward
The Nets were favored to win Friday's game, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index. They are not favored to win by BPI again until Dec. 10 against the Philadelphia 76ers, a span of 15 games.
BPI projects Brooklyn to finish with somewhere between 21 and 22 wins, which is expected to be the second-worst record in the NBA behind the 76ers. This would be good news for Nets fans if they owned their first-round draft pick, but they do not.
The Nets first-round pick in 2016 belongs to the Boston Celtics, who acquired it in the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade to Brooklyn in 2013. Boston also has the right to swap picks with Brooklyn in 2017 as well as the Nets 2018 first-rounder.
The next few years do not look bright in Brooklyn as far as professional basketball is concerned.