Lakers/Warriors: Beat Da Warriors

J.M. Poulard —  April 18, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 99, Warriors 87

Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 120.7, Warriors 106.1

True Shooting %: Lakers 58.1%, Warriors 47.2%

The Los Angeles Lakers played their seventh straight game without Kobe Bryant but quite frankly didn’t need him. The Purple and Gold came out looking to dominate the interior and showed a great level of energy on the road despite playing last night against the San Antonio Spurs.

So takeaways from the game?

The Good

Andrew Bynum was a beast early in the game, bulldozing through defenders and also spinning away from them early in the game to put up 17 points in the first quarter. Pau Gasol complemented his center with his scoring, rebounding and exquisite passing on his way to an impressive triple double.

The tag team combined for 53 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists on 19-for-30 shooting and helped the Lakers score a staggering 62 points in the paint.

As impressive as the tandem was against the Warriors, they managed to– brace yourself for a Phil Jacksonism — share the spotlight with their teammates. Indeed, the interior passing allowed players such as MWP and Devin Ebanks to get some great looks at the rim and it also created good ball movement which resulted in multiple high percentage shots and 34 assists on the night.

Even more impressive, the Lakers didn’t panic when they saw the Warriors’ zone, and instead kept the focus on getting the ball inside to Bynum, Gasol and World Peace to do damage in the paint instead of camping out and firing away from deep. The Lakers only attempted a mere 14 shots from 3-point range, many of which came towards the end of contest when Brown emptied the bench.

The Bad

Typically this would be where we discuss where one or two things that went wrong in the night’s performance, but after watching the Lakers blow out the Warriors, we’ll go in another direction: Metta World Peace.

It’s not that he played badly, but rather that he was a ­bad man tonight, making things difficult and unpleasant for his opponents. He chased Klay Thompson around and made life tough for him when matched up with him, but he was also a bull on the block given his size and strength.

World Peace was able to seal his defender on a few occasions down low — by the way, MWP occasionally went down there with both Bynum and Gasol on the court — and muscle him around for easy scores; but instead of simply looking to score, he also did a great job of distributing the ball to open players as evidenced by his nine assists.

He was plus-21 tonight and that certainly jives with what was observed on the court. His intensity on both ends of the floor was certainly important and it went a long way towards determining who would hit first, and that was the Lakers.

The Ugly

The Lakers did a good job of defending in the half court and forcing Golden State to shoot contested midrange jumpers off the dribble, which are difficult to convert. However, Mike Brown’s group did a poor job in the first half of getting back in transition after misses and turnovers. The Warriors used that to their advantage by getting out in the open court and creating some terrific looks at the rim.

Even if the fast break in itself was done, Golden State’s ability to run out and get into early offense meant that they could find driving lanes with the big men slowly retreating back into the paint.

This issue was corrected in the second half but is nonetheless troubling given that the Dubs didn’t have a top-notch point guard speeding up the tempo and flying down the court.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Lakers defense was less than stellar when the second unit made its way onto the court. Golden State’s bench was able to produce 29 points on 13-for-28 (46.4 percent), with 22 of those coming in the first half alone.

The Warriors’ activity level was superior to the Lakers in the second quarter, but the road team came out of halftime seemingly reenergized and intent on dominating the paint on both sides of the ball, which eventually led to a blowout.

With games against elite teams on the horizon (@San Antonio on April 20th and versus OKC on April 22nd), these lapses may prove costly if they do not get addressed.

With that said, a double-digit victory on the road with your best player sitting out isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world now is it?

J.M. Poulard