LOS ANGELES — It was bound to happen.
Jacque Vaughn suffered the first bad loss of his young Nets head-coaching career Sunday night as his team could do nothing to stop Anthony Davis. The Lakers’ very big man paired a season-high 37 points with a season-high 18 rebounds to lead his beleaguered team to a much-needed 116-103 win.
The victory ended a five-game losing streak for the Lakers, who were playing their second straight game without LeBron James (left abductor strain).
The loss was the first by more than seven points since Vaughn took over. It also followed an emotional win over the Clippers on Saturday in which the Nets pulled away late in the game.
“I knew going into it we expended a lot of juice from the Clipper game. It was going to be a task for us to deliver that same juice,” said Vaughn, who is 4-3 since taking over for Steve Nash. “I thought the guys gave effort and gave what they had. So it’s all right.”
The Nets and Lakers entered the game at Crypto.com Arena looking like two teams headed in opposite directions. The Lakers (now 3-10) entered the game tied for the fewest wins in the league. The Nets (now 6-8), meanwhile, seemed to be on the mend from their early-season trauma. They had won four of their last five.
The Nets continued to be without Kyrie Irving, who missed his sixth straight game after being suspended on Nov. 3 after posting a link to an antisemitic film on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
The Nets also were missing Ben Simmons, who was a late scratch with a sore left knee, and Seth Curry, who was held out because it was the second game of a back-to-back and he is coming back from offseason ankle surgery. Nic Claxton left early in the third quarter after suffering a left eye contusion.
The loss of Curry was the most hurtful. He totaled 45 points in the Nets’ previous two wins against the Knicks and Clippers, going 10-for-19 from three-point range.
That put extra pressure on Kevin Durant to carry the scoring. He finished with 31 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two blocks, but the Nets couldn’t get enough from the rest of the team. Cam Thomas scored 15 points and Edmond Sumner had 13.
Lonnie Walker IV added 25 for the Lakers. Russell Westbrook had 14 points and 12 assists and brought Lakers fans to their feet late in the first quarter when he blocked a turnaround jumper by Durant, his former OKC teammate.
The Nets trailed the entire game but were able to make it a three-point game with a 16-3 run at the end of the third quarter. They then were outscored 36-26 in the fourth quarter.
Vaughn, after talking with Durant, decided not to rest him at the start of the fourth.
“We had to put our closers in a little early — we’re talking baseball reference — instead of our middle-inning guys,” Vaughn said. “That’s what happens. We tried to make a push because we had to make up so much ground, and that probably did take a little more total out of us.”
Said Durant: “We was playing in spurts tonight. It was a perfect storm for them: They made a lot of shots, they got to the rim, the AD pick-and-roll was tough to stop tonight. I like how we fought, got back into the game in the third quarter. We had a chance to win, but they made more shots down the stretch than us, just plain and simple.”