Brooklyn hopes to snap streak against LakersNets will look to end 11-game losing streak to Los Angeles
While the Nets won't have to contend with Bryant this time, a face from the past will be trying to haunt them instead.
MarShon Brooks, coming off a solid Los Angeles debut, faces the team he began his career with for the first time Sunday night when he suits up for the Lakers, who expect top perimeter scorer Nick Young to return.
Bryant averaged 22.0 points while playing 10 games in Los Angeles' run against Brooklyn (25-28), but he remains sidelined by a knee injury.
The Nets instead will have to worry about Brooks, who played 112 regular-season games for them over the previous two seasons before he was part of the offseason deal that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.
Brooks started this season with Boston and then went to Golden State, which dealt him and Kent Bazemore to Los Angeles (19-36) on Thursday. Those two players combined for 29 points in their first game with the Lakers, a 101-92 win over the Celtics on Friday.
"Me and Kent just wanted to come out here and play with some energy," Brooks said. "I was tired - real tired. But (coach Mike) D'Antoni gives you that confidence and he lets you go out there and play your game. So I felt free doing that."
Brooks and Bazemore received plenty of minutes in the absence of Young, who will return after missing five games due to a knee injury. Young, who has the colorful nickname 'Swagy P,' averages 16.9 points.
"I think we all know what's at stake here, we've all got a lot of one-year deals but my main thing is to just go out there and play as hard as I can and you know, swag out, have fun out there," Young said.
Young scored a game-high 26 points off the bench to help Los Angeles post a 99-94 victory at Brooklyn on Nov. 27, and said D'Antoni mentioned that effort recently.
"Just the other day, he was telling me to bring that energy I had from the beginning when I first played Brooklyn," Young said.
Brooklyn guard Deron Williams missed the first matchup with a sprained left ankle. He is back now, but is 0-18 as a starter against the Lakers at Staples Center, including eight playoff games.
Another advantage for Los Angeles is that the Nets are 2-10 in the second half of back-to-back sets after falling 93-86 at Golden State on Saturday.
It's not hard to see why since Brooklyn features aging veterans like Pierce, Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko. Still, Los Angeles remains wary of what to expect.
"If I am not mistaken, they moved Pierce to the four a lot, they're playing smaller, they spread the floor," D'Antoni said. "Obviously they're smart. Joe Johnson is playing well for them. They have a lot of weapons."
Brooklyn made just 2 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc and committed 16 turnovers against the Warriors.
"I thought we had a lot of good shots, they just didn't fall," Pierce said.
Nets guard Marcus Thornton sat out Saturday with a stomach illness. He has yet to play since being acquired from Sacramento on Wednesday.