Pictured above is the Warriors shooting chart for the first half. As you can see, besides the above the break three from the left wing and the area right above the right elbow, the Warriors were red hot from the field. This hot shooting led to 63 first half points and a 23 point lead for the home team. This was a deficit the Lakers were never able overcome, thus falling to the Warriors 109-103.
Don’t let the final score fool you. The Lakers were beat handily in this game and were it not for coach Mike D’Antoni playing Kobe the entire 2nd half and pushing Dwight and Nash for 21 and 20 out of the final 24 minutes respectively, this game wouldn’t have been anywhere near that close. The final margin was the result of a late game push, but that Lakers’ run like putting lipstick on a pig and didn’t amount to much besides more tired legs for this team to carry on the rest of their road trip.
Make no mistake, this game was lost early on the weakness of the Laker defense. The Warriors guards had a field day working in isolation and coming off screens, getting open to shoot the jumpers that they’re very capable of hitting. In the game preview I mentioned that Klay Thompson is a very good, but streaky shooter and he proved me right by coming out red hot and not missing once he got space to fire off his jumper. His back court partner, Steph Curry, was nearly as good, hitting all types of step back jumpers and leaners when working in the P&R and in isolation. And when it wasn’t Curry or Klay, it was longtime Lakers’ killer Jarrett Jack who hit shot after shot, twisting the knife with each floater over the outstretched arms of Dwight Howard.
Ultimately, the Warriors game plan — as it is most nights — was quite simple. They picked out the Lakers weaker individual defenders and isolated them to get their shots. When Curry was on Nash, they’d go that route. When Jamison checked in, they attacked him with David Lee and then Harrison Barnes. When the Lakers went small with the Nash/Blake back court, they attacked with Klay Thompson against whichever small guard picked him up. On and on this went for the entire first half and the Lakers had no answers for how to stop it. Dwight Howard tried to step up and slow penetration but all that happened was the ball got passed around — either to a diving big man or back out to the perimeter — and an open shot was given up.
It’s nearly impossible to win when your defense is that bad for even short stretches of a game, so when it’s for an entire half you might as well pack it in and go home.
The Lakers did fight back, turning around their own poor offense to score 36 points in the 3rd quarter. But their defense wasn’t much better than it was early in the game, giving up 31 to the Warriors to only shave off 5 points from their 23 point halftime deficit. So, even though the Lakers had the aforementioned 4th quarter run, it didn’t much matter as the team didn’t nearly do enough early to get a win.
A few additional notes:
- Pau Gasol is clearly still limited physically. He was moving around the floor poorly and was barely jumping to get rebounds in the 1st half. He looked better to start the 3rd quarter, but the bar was so low early on even that slight improvement didn’t lead to a capable performance. He hurt the Lakers on both sides of the ball in this game and while I appreciate him trying to come back as quickly as possible, it’s clear he’s no where near the level he was at right before his injury.
- Ron left this game at halftime with a strained knee and didn’t return. When we have more information we’ll pass it along. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. That said, the injury bug is feasting on the Lakers this year.
- Antawn Jamison looked okay physically in playing with his bum wrist, but didn’t shoot well at all. Tough to say if the wrist was really bothering him, but his 1-5 shooting for 5 points was especially painful considering how much he gave back on the other end of the floor.
- When Jamison is playing that poorly on D and can’t find his offense, I’d have liked to have seen more Earl Clark. Clark competed hard on D in that first half, stringing together a few good possessions on Harrison Barnes. Clark’s no savior and he later had issues with Jack and Lee, but his effort on D stood out.
- The Lakers lost this game on D, but their offense is once again out of sorts. They started the game with three straight post ups and then looked out of synch in their P&R game for long stretches in the first half. It’s going to take time to integrate Pau back into the mix and right now they’re showing the struggles of trying to fit in a major piece who still isn’t quite right fitting for what D’Antoni prefers to do on that side of the ball.
- From the 3rd quarter of the Wizards game to halftime of the Warriors game the Lakers were outscored 125 to 83. Not good. Easy to see why they lost both games.
- Kobe and Nash were both aggressive in looking for their shots in this game, but both ended up shooting less than 50% from the filed. Nash finished 9-19 while Kobe shot 11-27. Kobe did get to the FT line 16 times (making 12) but most of the night saw him missing shots from all over the floor. Hard to say if his ankle is still bothering him, but he lacked burst in being able to get by his man in isolation and ended up settling for a lot of contested jumpers. Obviously that’s not ideal. As for Nash, he was good in attacking with his jumper out of the P&R but in the 2nd half his legs looked dead and he missed several shots including two jumpers quite badly.
- With Nash and Kobe shooting a combined 46 times (and Meeks taking 14 himself — while making only 5) there weren’t a lot of shots left for other guys. Dwight had 8 FGA’s and 6 FT attempts in this game and could have used a few more of both. The Warriors were playing him one on one most of the night and while Bogut is a good defender, Dwight got him out of the game with foul trouble in the 2nd quarter but the Lakers rarely went to him with Festus Ezeli on him. Seemed like an opportunity missed.