March 28, 2015

While Kobe Bryant believes they might play better on the road, the Los Angeles Lakers aren't likely to notch their first victory unless things improve defensively.

That could happen against a winless Brooklyn Nets team that's struggling to score.

As they open a five-game trip, the Lakers will try to avoid their second consecutive 0-5 start Friday night when the Nets look to put an end to their worst start in six years.

Los Angeles is hoping history doesn't repeat itself after their poor start last season led to the worst finish in franchise history. The Lakers ranked 29th in scoring defense (105.3) in 2014-15 but they've been even worse this season.

They've given up an NBA-high 116.8 points and forced a league-low 12.0 turnovers per game after allowing Denver to shoot 50.6 percent in Tuesday's 120-109 home defeat. The frustration boiled over in the fourth quarter when some players jawed at each other.

"We had a little bit of an altercation, which was good," coach Byron Scott told the team's official website. "That tells me that they care. I want to see more fight in our guys. We want to try to stop the bleeding as soon as possible."

Facing Brooklyn might give them the perfect opportunity. The Nets have averaged just 87.3 points in the past four of a five-game losing streak to begin the season and are among the league's worst from 3-point range at 24.4 percent.

"We'll probably play better on the road," Bryant said, perhaps conveniently forgetting a 132-114 loss to Sacramento in the Lakers' lone game away from home. "Because the energy of playing on the road and getting into the environment where it's just us against the world."

Brook Lopez finished with a season-high 27 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday, but Brooklyn committed a season-high 19 turnovers in a 101-87 loss at Atlanta. Lopez has been a bright spot with 20 points per game but no other player is averaging more than 12.

The Nets are off to their worst start since opening 0-18 during the 2009-10 season.

''I don't think anybody's happy to be in this position,'' guard Jarrett Jack said. ''We've got to come out with a mentality of a desperate team trying to get a win on Friday.''

Following a 11-game slide in the series, Brooklyn has won the past three meetings. The club averaged 110.5 points in sweeping last season's series for the first time since 2005-06. Lopez totaled 52 points and 25 rebounds, while Joe Johnson scored a combined 41.

The Nets enter this matchup having allowed 104.4 points per game and a 41.5 mark from 3-point range. The Lakers are averaging 106.8 points but shoot just 27.9 percent from 3.

Bryant and rookie D'Angelo Russell hope to end their shooting slumps. Bryant went 7 for 26 (26.9 percent) and Russell was 7 for 24 (29.2) in the past two games.

"Kobe's the last person I worry about," Scott said. "I know how he is."

Jordan Clarkson, averaging a team-high 18.3 points, will try to build on his career high-tying 30-point effort against the Nuggets. He finished with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a 107-99 loss March 29 in the most recent meeting at Barclays Center.

Julius Randle, who missed most of last season with a broken leg, has totaled 38 points, 20 rebounds, five steals and two blocks over the past two games.

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