(Corey Sipkin / Associated Press)
Kyrie Irving, one of the slickest ballhandlers in the NBA, dribbled in front of the Lakers’ bench in the first half Monday night at Barclays Center. One of the league’s peskiest defenders, Patrick Beverley, tried to mirror him move for move before he eventually was called for a foul.
It was an entertaining sliver in the game — and a moment that ended with LeBron James, sitting on the end of the Lakers’ bench, reaching his hands into a box of popcorn and pulling out a few kernels.
Fresh off a game the Lakers believed they should’ve won in Boston, they played one where they certainly knew they could lose, Anthony Davis out in the front end of a back to back and James on the bench because of a persistent sore foot.
Though the Lakers continued to show teams around the league that they’re not short on fight, with Davis and James on the bench — even against a Brooklyn team without Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons — the Lakers were too short on talent to win.
Brooklyn beat the Lakers 121-104 despite the Lakers leading by as many as seven points in the second half. Thomas Bryant scored 18 points and Russell Westbrook had 17, eight rebounds and 10 assists.
Troy Brown Jr. grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.
Irving scored 26 to lead the Nets.
The Lakers missed too many threes (18) and too many free throws (14) to win Monday — the games where they play hard and don’t capitalize are adding up as the losses keep them weighed down in the Western Conference standings.
Pregame, the Lakers were still stung from losing in Boston on Saturday, the fallout from officials missing a last-second foul by Jayson Tatum rippling through the weekend thanks to the league’s last two-minute report, which confirmed the missed foul, and a tweeted apology from the Twitter account run by the union for NBA referees.
“Man, in life you just gotta move on, bro,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said pregame. “It is what it is. Everybody saw what happened. Just gotta move on.”
After a miserable first quarter in which the Lakers scored just 16 points, they did what they’ve done many times this season. They continued to push, cutting into the Nets' lead, getting just enough momentum at halftime to credibly attack the second half.
Westbrook moved into sole possession of 10th on the NBA’s career assist leaderboard, passing Gary Payton on a dish to Thomas Bryant for a dunk in the second quarter.
The Lakers led by seven late in the third quarter, but the Nets scored 10 consecutive points to reclaim momentum, eventually pushing back in front by double digits in the fourth.
The Lakers play the Knicks on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.