Nets guard Cam Thomas and guard Dennis Schroder defend Los...

Nets guard Cam Thomas and guard Dennis Schroder defend Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James in the first half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Sunday, March 31, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Nets gave their fans a historic shooting display in the second half Friday. On Sunday, it was LeBron James’ turn at Barclays Center.

James, 39, couldn’t miss in the second half for the Lakers as the NBA’s oldest player delivered another vintage performance. As he left to a standing ovation, the Nets felt like strangers at home in their 116-104 loss.

James had 40 points and shot 9-for-10 from three-point range, tying a career high for makes. He shot 8-for-9 overall in the second half, making all six three-point attempts.

The Nets (29-46), who made an NBA-record-tying 18 three-pointers in one half Friday, missed their first 11 shots. They fell behind 17-0 and ended the quarter with a 31-11 deficit, their fewest points in a quarter this season and six fewer than James had in the fourth.

The Nets trailed by 26 in the third quarter, but the deficit was cut to 90-82 to open the fourth when Cam Thomas (30 points) made a three-pointer. James, who finished 13-for-17 from the field, followed with threes on consecutive possessions, and the Lakers (42-33) were never threatened again.

“We tried to hit him a couple of times,” Nets coach Kevin Ollie said. “But when you’re falling out of bounds in the first row, making it all net, he just got one of those ‘flow’ moments. That’s what greatness is, just a great player.”

Ollie was speaking of James’ eighth three-pointer, when he did a sidestep, shot while fading away and landed in the stands. The crowd stood with a deafening roar, including a fan near courtside wearing a goat mask and a white No. 23 Lakers jersey.

James’ ninth three was another fadeaway, this time over the outstretched arms of 6-11 Nic Claxton, who could only watch after James set him up with several crossover dribbles.

“He’s like 40 years old,” Claxton said. “So yes, it’s impressive and he’s one of the pioneers of the game.”

The Nets, whose winning streak was snapped at three games, didn’t score until Claxton’s basket with 5:30 left in the first quarter. They trailed by as many as 24 in the period. It was the polar opposite of Friday, when they made 25 three-pointers. They hit only 12 on Sunday and were outrebounded 50-38.

“That’s the beauty of basketball,” said Trendon Watford, who had 15 points off the bench. “One day you might make 25 threes and the next game you might not make any. So you gotta stick through it and you gotta love it.”

James’ display overshadowed a big night by Thomas, who has scored at least 20 points in 10 of the last 11 games.

Dennis Schroder added 14 points and Mikal Bridges had 13. The Nets fell 5 1⁄2 games behind the Hawks, whose magic number for eliminating them dropped to three.

Anthony Davis scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half and had 14 rebounds for the Lakers.

Before leaving Barclays, a fan yelled, “We love you, Bron!” On this night, the Nets seemed like background players to James.

Dinwiddie returns

Spencer Dinwiddie planned to keep things positive in his return to Brooklyn. His mother told him earlier in the day to stand down because it was Easter Sunday.

But Dinwiddie, who was traded by the Nets at the deadline and eventually wound up with the Lakers, didn’t hold back fully, especially regarding if there was anything mischaracterized about his departure.

“Everything. Every single thing,” he said. “I know that people say what they say from other places, whether it be organization, other positions or whatever. So sometimes, obviously, as a player, like you said, things get mischaracterized or your voice gets drowned out. That’s just kind of the situation I ended up in.”

Dinwiddie, who was scoreless and took only two shots, initially was dealt to the Raptors before they waived him. The Lakers then signed him, allowing the Los Angeles native to return home.

Dinwiddie harbored no will toward his former Nets teammates but added that he took pride in guarding the primary scorers Sunday. He is in a similar role with the Lakers, although he’s coming off the bench.

He’s also in better position to play in the postseason.

“They were already a good team before I got here,” he said. “But to play purposeful basketball, though, is a phenomenal experience to be part of. You definitely don’t want to be just kind of flailing in the wind.”

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