- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- No Dwight, no Metta, no problem.
"Hopefully, the players will know that you can’t take a play off," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of the team's predicament before the game. "You got to go out there and you got to win games. We put ourselves into this situation where every possession is important and every play. It’s not bad if they can get that mentality, because it does make you sharp, but again, you don’t want to be in this position -- but we are, so, so be it."
The Lakers didn't have Dwight Howard for the third straight game and they won for the third straight time, withstanding World Peace's one-game suspension in the process thanks to some unlikely heroes.
How it happened: After a sluggish start when the Lakers scored just 18 points in the first quarter on 8-for-21 shooting, Mike D'Antoni used a bench-heavy lineup of Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Robert Sacre, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark to start the second quarter. And it paid off, as the reserves went on a 10-2 run to get L.A. going. The Lakers' lead would swell to as many as 13 in the third quarter before the Nets rallied to make it a three-point game heading into the fourth. Pau Gasol (right ankle) left the game with 3:50 remaining, but L.A. was able to hold on thanks to some clutch plays by Clark and a momentum-seizing dunk by Kobe Bryant on Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries down the stretch.
What it means: This isn't a fluke. The Lakers legitimately have some momentum going, winning six out of seven games and three straight on their "Grammy Trip." Better late than never. The end to this road trip will be crucial.
Hits: Playing with his mom, dad and sister in the building, Clark -- a New Jersey native -- played the game like it was in his backyard. Clark finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds and not only hit a clutch jumper and two clutch free throws one game after missing two late freebies in Detroit, but he also played center and guarded Lopez after Gasol went out.
Bryant had a rough shooting night (9-for-24) but filled the stat sheet with 21 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and a block.
Misses: The Lakers were dominated on the boards, particularly on the offensive glass, getting outrebounded 52-39, including 20 offensive boards for Brooklyn.
Stat of the night: Duhon had a plus-minus of plus-6 in six minutes of playing time.
What's next: The Lakers are past the midway point of their seven-game road trip, going 3-1 to start things off and reversing the trend they set through their first 20 games on the road this season, when they lost three out of every four away from Staples Center to go 5-15. They'll try to keep the momentum going Thursday against a surprising Boston Celtics team that's been playing great basketball ever since Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending injury.